Leonard Miller (Michael Todd) created Robot Ninja, a comic book that makes lots of money for his publisher Stanley Kane (Burt Ward) — named for two men who did the exact same to artists, Stan Lee and Bob Kane — but none for him. They even turn his violent comic book into a cartoon for kids.
As he grows depressed, he witnesses several crimes. When he tries to stop one, he’s put into the hospital, which leads him to seek out a way to become his creation in real life.
Directed and written by J.R. Bookwalter (The Dead Next Door, Ozone), the story finds Leonard going to Dr. Goodknight (Bogdan Pecic) for weapons and powers, then going out into the world and acting like a 80s grim and gritty black and white comics explosion vigilante hero — think Tim Vigil’s Grips, shout out to Matty Budrewicz for calling out how this is similar to Vigil’s layouts in his article on the essential The Schlock Pit — along with tons of gore and violence.
This was produced by Dave DeCouteau, who it seems like is behind nearly every other movie that I watch. He was able to get Linnea Quigley for this.
I knew a dude in art school that spent some time trying to police his old high school, somewhere in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, wearing a Batman costume under his street clothes, waiting for the time when he was needed. He’d broken up with his girlfriend and had what I only figure was a break with our world and went into his own. I asked him why he told me his origin story, as I wondered if what if I was his arch enemy and he’d told me exactly what I needed to know to strike at his loved ones. He tried to throw me against a wall like he was Frank Miller Batman, except that, well, he didn’t have any training or strength. I just laughed, to be honest. I thought that this was really funny at the time, but today that I’m older and look back on my younger days with a mixture of sadness and headshaking cringe, I feel very upset for him. If you stay away from reality and think that comics — or movies — are real, this is what happens.
IFD has a copyright of 1973 on this movie and describes it as so: “Eagle miraculously survives the massacre by General Lung in which his parents are killed and his wife is kidnapped. After spending months alone honing his fighting skills, Eagle sets out to rescue Jade from Lung and kill him and the others responsible for the massacre. But his biggest challenge comes from Boris, a Westerner who has come to old China to become a ninja master.”
Sure, I guess it’s about that.
It starts with Leon, a ninja wearing all pink everything and a headband that helpfully says ninja, battling two black ninjas who have chased one of his friends ad upset his meditation. They’ve been sent by Boris, the yellow ninja, who relates how he and Leon were once friends to his red ninja friend Luther. Leon has sent a message. “Tell Boris the Judge is here.” The henchman who delivers it relates that it was a frightening experience to battle Leon.
Well, Boris did burn down Leon’s house, setting his family ablaze and the last thing Leon said to him was “Justice will be done… and I’m The Judge!” so I assume that this is the same ninja, as does Boris.
Meanwhile, we move on to footage from Cheh Chang’s The Dancing Warrior, whose drunken fighter is now sober and referred to as Eagle. We get to see some of his fighting power as he cuts down a tree with a sword and then blows up some oranges.
Eagle has been looking for his wife Jade, who was taken by General Lo. That journey will take Eagle to some strange places, like a bunch of barbarians in furs fighting, a tiger-striped dude with a mohawk who throws fire at our hero, some ninjas and a chicken.
In between all of this fighting, Leon and Eagle meet one another. As always, the footage is totally different and it’s two people speaking that have and will never meet except through the magical lunacy of a Godfrey Ho movie.
Unlike most ninjas — well, other than Snake Eyes — Leon also will use a flintlock pistol in combat. He doesn’t use it all the time, but it freaks Boris out. I mean, Leon is cold, as he puts it right between the eyes of one evil ninja and says, “Bullets are expensive and hard to come by. Consider yourself lucky! Goodbye!” before letting the guy live. I’m shocked he didn’t piss his red shinobi shozoku.
At one point, Eagle saves a lady from some toughs who are threatening to beat her up outside her restaurant. It’s a ruse. The lady — who seems like she wants to pay Eagle back with a furtive handjob — instead drugs him and gives him over to the general, who ties him up and nearly kills him. Eagle recovers and kills nearly everyone as his woman is killed saving him. Just when he nearly kills the general, that man’s young daughter jumps into his arms and begs for her father’s life. That’s the same thing Eagle once did and an entire movie of being told that revenge is not the right path all hits him at once.
This kind of life lesson will not do in a Godfrey Ho movie, so we return to the last battle of white guy ninjas.
Pierre Kirby played Leon in this and unlike so many of the white ninjas in Godfrey Ho movies, he has some actual martial arts skills. Supposedly, he was a sailor who would act as the boat captain for wealthy people as well as a boat courier. He disappeared around 1990, as he was on the way to the Philippines to deliver a yacht when his ship was boarded by pirates. Yes, not in the movie. In real life.
Cinema Snob Brad Jones said, “His sister once got in touch with me after I did Pierre Kirby week, because she had no idea that her brother ever did any movies and she wanted copies of them. She said the weirdest part was seeing him with a dubbed voice, as he had a heavy British accent in real life.”
If you’ve seen Konan the Barbarian Swordsman or Metallic Fury, you’ve already seen this.
As for the music — always my favorite part of any Godfrey Ho movie, includes repeated use of “Toccata and Fugue in D minor,” as well as Gustav Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War,” Pink Floyd’s “Saucerful of Secrets,” “Rubycon part 2” by Tangerine Dream, several songs from the A Nightmare On Elm Street soundtrack, some of the Outland soundtrack, “Zig Zag Title” by Oliver Nelson and “Put Yourself In Los Angeles” by Chris & Cosey.
Let’s be perfectly frank. I’d watch a movie that was 85 minutes of people repeatedly making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as long as Linnea Quigley was in said movie. I’m sure they’d figure out some way to make her take a shower while the sandwiches were being made, which I find to be a bold directoral choice that I would explain to my wife was necessary for the foreign markets.
Anyways — Witchtrap.
You have to admire a movie that has a warlock as the final boss and still calls itself Witchtrap. Then again, the alternate title was The Presence and that’s not as good.
Kevin S. Tenney made two versions of Night of the Demons, along with two Witchboard movies. Here, he tells the story of a team of phenomena busters who have a special machine — a witch trap, if you will — to aid themselves in de-ghosting the Lauder House. Tenney even acts in this, as they couldn’t get another actor in time when one dropped out and hey — he already knew the script.
The whole movie is dubbed thanks to an on set filming error. If you watch Italian movies as much as me, you’ll gloss over that. I love reading reviews of this movie that decry its wooden acting and long stretches of dialogue. What did you really expect? It’s a direct-to-video 80’s movie about de-ghosters. Be happy that there’s a super gory head explosion and Linnea gets in a shower. That said, the shower kills her, but she does fulfill her contractual obligation to take a shower. If she did not take a shower in a movie, her parents would be threatened. Can you provide it didn’t happen?
Seriously, why has Bathfitter or ReBath not hired Linnea Quigley for a series of commercials? She could be like, “This shower stall is good enough for me, so it’d good enough for you. Hopefully, you won’t be stabbed in it. I probably will be. Call today and see what special offers we have!”
I love that the back cover of this says: NOTICE: This Motion Picture is not a sequel to WITCHBOARD.
The original idea for the new owner of this house was to make it into a bed and breakfast where people would go to be scared. The first night, he let a magician stay in it and that guy did a half-gainer into the concrete. This idea also should make you ignore the acting and dialogue and realize that this movie has ghost-powered bullets and face melting. Literally, face melting.
The MVD blu ray release of Wtchtrap is incredible. It has a high definition 1080p presentation of the main feature in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, scanned and restored in 2K in 2016 from the 35mm Interpositive. You get commentary with director Kevin Tenney, producer Dan Duncan, cinematographer Tom Jewett and actor Hal Havins; interviews with Tenney, Quigley, Jewett and special effects supervisor Tassilo Baur; an awesome VHS quality version — more releases need this! — and a photo gallery and trailer.
Plus. you also get reversible cover artwork, a collectible mini-poster and a limited edition slipcover.
VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the April 11, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.
Bull terriers can be independent and stubborn, but have a good temperament, get along well with people and can be a loving member of the family when socialized early. Like other terrier breeds, they were raised to kill rats and fight one another. In the U.S., we associate this breed with America’s party animal, Spuds MacKenzie, who if we are to believe the 1980s commercials was scoring human women thanks to his love of beer. Today, Spot, the Target dog, is also this breed.
So is Baxter.
Let me tell you, I don’t care what Baxter does in this movie, I love him more than any of the humans.
Baxter can’t find a family that he belongs to. The old woman is boring and must be killed. The couple across the street don’t understand when he tries to show his heart and when he brings them dead animals. They make a child that he hates and so he is given to the boy across the street. The boy wants to be Hitler and goes so far as to destroy Baxter’s puppies. Baxter wants to kill him in retaliation, but he can’t see the boy as anything other than his master, allowing him to kill him.
I wanted more for Baxter, as his voice (Maxime Leroux) speaks to you about what he desires in this world. He isn’t human. He’s a dog. He wants what a dog wants. He wants the firm hand of ownership, he wants discipline and he wants structure. I wish that Baxter found something else. I wish that he had a large field to run through and an owner that made him feel the belonging that he craves.
Directed by Jérôme Boivin, who wrote the script with Jacques Audiard, based on the book Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall (and republished under his pen name Jessica Hamilton), this is a bleak affair, a movie of darkness and constant looming death.It’s not an easy watch.
In the book — Will Ericckson brought it to light in a series of books he spotlighted for Tor Books — Baxter has a lot to say about mankind. “Pity is not something I want to encourage in myself. It is something for humans to feel, one of the jumble of odd sentiments they burden themselves with. Their emotions are like diseases, I think; diseases that can spread among those who try to understand them. Let their feelings be a mystery, like the dozens of other strange traits they have… The ways in which they deceive themselves are endless.”
Poor Baxter. Sure, he’s a sociopath, but he’s also a good boy.
You can get the reissued Paperbacks from Hell edition of Hell Houndhere.
Seven months after the third movie, everyone goes to Hawaii. Yes, Susan Wyatt and Sharon Grand (Hayley Mills), the Wyatt twins — Lisa, Jesse ad Megan (Leanna, Monica and Joy Creel) — and their dad Jeffrey (Barry Bostwick). Jeffrey has inherited a resort just in time for his honeymoon with Susan. Sharon plans on taking care of the girls, but seeing as how this was a two-parter, there has to be some drama.
Mollie Miller directs (she also did the third movie) and this was written by John McNamara, who created the series Aquarius and The Magicians.
This movie has my favorite thing ever happen: both Susan and Sharon have exactly one photo of themselves together from their childhood and, of course, it’s the publicity photo of them in the tent from the first film. No one was there with a camera. It would be impossible to have this image. And here it is, captured, a memory of their past which is our past which we remember directly than them.
Three years later and it’s time for more entrapment of parents.
Jeffrey Wyatt (Barry Bostwick) is the widowed father of identical triplet teenage girls — Lisa, Jessie, and Megan (Leanna, Monica and Joy Creel) — and after getting them off his hands all summer, he has to tell them that he’s now engaged to Cassie McGuire (Patricia Richardson), who is redesigning their family home with the help of Susan Evers (Hayley Mills), who has already divorced Brian Carey from the last film.
The girls have some drama too, as Lisa is dating two boys, David (Chris Gartin) and Hawk (Jon Pennell), and gets the help of her sister Jessie, who ends up having to sing Janet Jackson karaoke. Well, Lisa and her sister get in trouble and she responds by letting her dad know how much she hates Cassie. Susan then tells the girls that she did the same games with her sister when she was young.
You know what? They still play those games and this is one of those movies where the leads break up a marriage at the altar. Or before. At the storage shed, I guess.
Mills said that she would never do another sequel and here we are, after Good Morning, Miss Bliss became Saved By the Bell and she didn’t just make this one, she made the sequel, which was also directed by Mollie Miller. This was written by Deborah Amelon (who wrote Exit to Eden) and Jill Donner, who wrote Voyager from the Unknown and seven episodes of the series that would come from it, Voyagers!
Captain Donnie Yan (Donnie Yen) and Madam Rachel Yeung Lai-ching (Cynthia Khan) are on the trail of cocaine dealers. When she goes off script and gets found by a dockworker named Luk Wan-ting (Yuen Yat-chor) who thinks that she’s an illegal immigrant. He feels bad for her and gives her money and a place to say. As Donnie stays after the criminals, she learns that Luk’s brother Ming (Liu Kai-chi) is being attacked by criminals that he owes money to. The two fight off the gang and when her cover’s blown, Rachel gets back on the case. At the same time, their partner Peter Woods gets shotgun blasted by the real boss behind all of the drug deals is a CIA officer named Mr. Robinson.
I’ve just explained about the first ten minutes or so of this dense film, one that builds tension and then goes as wild as any of the other movies in this series.
Luk Wan-Ting is a witness to that murder and gets framed for it. He escapes the police and a killer, which sends our heroes after him. She thinks he’s innocent based on their past history and he thinks that he’s not, so we have some tension between our supercops. In fact, things get even tenser when they start to wonder which cops they can trust and decide to hide out with Luk and attempt to get him to testify.
The final fights in this film — once the plot is solved and we can, as they say, get to the fireworks factory — are incredible. The battle between the CIA agent (Michael Woods) and Yen on top of a building has more action than every movie that will come out of Hollywood this year. There’s also a great battle between Khan and karate champion Farlie Ruth Kordica that has the two falling from huge heights and kicking each other repeatedly. Also: if you like glass being broken — I do — this movie will give you all the shattering and smashing of glass that you can handle.
Director Yuen Woo-ping is a name you should already know but if you don’t, he’s the director of Drunken Master, Tiger Cage, Iron Monkeyand so many more movies. He also was the fight choreographer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Fist of Legend, Black Mask, the second and third Matrix and Kill Bill 1 and 2. Seeing his name means that you’re about to have your mind absolutely blown.
88 Films’ In the Line of Duty Series includes 1985’s Yes, Madam!, 1986’s Royal Warriors, 1988’s In the Line of Duty 3 and 1989’s In the Line of Duty 4. This film is available in Cantonese and two different English dubs and extras like a commentary by F.J. DeSanto, an interview with Donnie Yen and trailers. There’s also a gorgeous book and posters for each movie. You can buy the set from MVD.
In a promotional image for Riverbend, one side has Margaret Avery, letting you know that she was in The Color Purple (it omits that she was also in Terror House). On the other side, Steve James, star of American Ninjaand Delta Force.
This allows you to know what world you are from.
If you’re like me, any movie with Steve James means so much more than any Oscar-winning cultural force.
Made in the post-Cannon world by Sam Firstenberg — this was for Prism Entertainment Corporation — this movie has a completely ludicrous and therefore awesome conceit: Three rebellious African-American army officers — Maj. Samuel Quentin (James), Sgt. Tony Marks (Julius Tennon) and Lt. Butch Turner (Alex Morris) — refuse to enact a Mai Lei-style massacre and kill innocents. They’re due for a court martial and sent to Georgia. Being black men in the white man’s army, they know that there’s no way things are going to be fair, so they escape.
They end up by total luck in Riverbend, finding a home with sympathetic widow Bell Coleman (Avery). She says she can only keep them for a few days, but Quentin is a man of justice that realizes that the town is in the grip of racist cops like Sheriff Jake (Tony Frank). Jake drops n bombs as casually as I discuss Jess Franco, which is all the time, and also is the man who shot Bell’s husband in the back in broad daylight when he tried to formally complain about how the cops treat black people in Riverbend. This film also wonders if that’s enough and decides that it has to somehow make a white Southern racist murdering coward cop even worse and has her assault a young girl named Pauline (Vennessa Tate).
Instead of leaving town, the army men are talked into staying around and training the black side of town to take over, which they do, and put every single white person either in jail or in a building with a bomb in it, all to bring the media to Riverbend where they’ll learn of the racism. And oh yeah, why Quentin and his men left Vietnam.
This movie is exactly why — if you’re a Cannon fan especially — that you love both James and Firstenberg. James rarely got the chance to be the lead — this and Street Hunter are about it before his untimely death — and he commands the screen. He gets to do action, drama, some shirtless time for the ladies and even a love scene, which man, the stages of grief in Rivertown are short when the widow Coleman is already sleeping with another man days after her husband gets gunned down. Then again, if I died tragically due to a racist cop and my wife was keeping Steve James in our place, I’d look up from Hell or through the dimensions from Limbo or whatever is in the next world and give my blessing, because look, Steve James is such an upgrade from me it’s the very definition of upgrade.
As for Firstenberg, he’s pre-Tarantino rewriting history with a black town following the “by any means necessary” pledge and taking over their own town by force. Amazingly, it works, as at the end, every black person is not dead but instead meeting their white neighbors in the street and warmly hugging and shaking hands just minutes after releasing them from a kidnapping and bomb threat. One and done scriptwriter Samuel Vance somehow made a science fiction movie here, because in the real world, the National Guard would be dropping bombs on this town.
You also have to adore any movie set in 1966 that has a synth driven basic training montage.
And man, Tony Frank. The guy was in a movie with a huge black cast and is just out there spitting the most coarse racism in their faces. I know sticks and stones, but this feels like the roughest way to get emotion and he’s acting the hell out of his role, somehow becoming worse than every single white Mr. Big in every blacksploitation movie put together.
This movie has Billy Jack and Walking Tall energy and I mean that as the biggest compliment. This totally knocked me out and was so unexpected; I had no clue it existed much less how powerful — and strange — it is.
Liberty (Mile O’Keefe) and Bash (Lou Ferrigno) once were in the service and fought in Central America along with Jesse (Richard Eden). They’re trying to keep young people out of the drug trade and off the streets, but they can’t even keep Jesse from getting all mixed up and killed. That means it’s time for a new war. A war on the streets of America.
Reading this paragraph and thinking that Ator and Hercules are teaming up, well, you might think that this movie is going to be awesome.
I wish I could report that it was.
This is the second time that Myrl A. Schreibman has done this to me. His film Angel of H.E.A.T. figured out a way to make a spy movie with Marilyn Chambers and Mary Woronov boring.
April 4: Remake, remix, ripoff — A shameless remake, remix or ripoff of a much better known movie. Allow your writing to travel the world (we recommend Italy or Turkey).
The true joy of Italian exploitation cinema is that sometimes, you expect a complete ripoff and are instead rewarded with something if not better than the original, then at least different. Shocking Dark AKA Terminator 2 seems like it’s going to be one James Cameron movie and ends up being another. Night Killer was sold in Italy as a sequel to Texas Chainsaw Massacre— it was released using that film’s Italian title, Non Aprite Quella Porta 3 (Don’t Open the Door 3) — and has elements of A Nightmare On Elm Street yet at heart it’s a very deranged portrait of a marriage gone wrong and a woman on the verge. One only has to look at perhaps the most successful ripoff ever, Zombi 2, to see how Lucio Fulci took the basic idea of ripping off Zombi AKA Dawn of the Dead yet somehow going further and stranger than George Romero.
Alien from the Abyss AKA Alien from the Deep has a poster that might make you believe that you’re about to see one of the many remix remake and ripoff versions of Ridley Scott’s Alien (there are a whole bunch in this article).
Yet this movie does what the Italian genre directors do best and get inspiration and then go their own way.
Margheriti was the master of lighting, which he needed as he would set up multiple cameras to get shots from every angle, as well as different levels of close-up, giving him coverage faster so he could shoot fast. He was also great with miniatures and, as you can tell from this movie, he seemed to just love exploding things.
Instead of space, this movie is quite earthbound. Jane (Marina Giulia Cavalli, billed here as Julia McCay; she was born in Portland, Oregon but found fame in Italian movies like Fashion Crimes and Complicazioni nella notte) and Lee (Robert Marius, Cop Game, Warriors of the Apocalypse) are ecological activists trying to discover why E-Chem is dumping toxic waste into a volcano. Colonel Kovacks (Charles Napier!), the man running the show, tries to take them out with his henchmen and helicopters. Lee gets captured, but Lee runs into the jungle where she meets Bob (Daniel Bosch), a snake farmer who falls for her and gets rebuffed quickly. He literally milks snakes of their venom for a living, a fact that really makes her upset.
While all this is going on, Dr. Geoffrey (Luciano Pigozzi, using his Alan Collins name; if you’ve seen any number of Italian exploitation you’ve seen Luciano) tries to warn everyone that the toxic waste and magma are combining to send a message into space that’s soon answered by a ball of fire that falls from the sky. Inside that burning bit of cosmic comet is an alien that looks like HR Giger but made from elements you can discover at your local Rome — or the Philippines, this was made there — Home Depot. Don’t take that as an insult. I absolutely love the monster in this movie and am obsessed with his gigantic lobster claw.
Just when the movie is getting a little too Romancing the Stone between Jane and Bob — they flirt like no two human beings ever have before, saying dialogue that feels alien and insane like “Don’t you touch me, you snake squeezer!” and man, they’re either going to kill one another or have the best sex anyone ever has had in a jungle movie that forgets that it’s supposed to be Alien — the M-16 carrying bad guys bust in and his trained snakes attack, leaping out all over the place and wasting bad guys left and right. Did I cheer? You know I did.
Keep in mind that the alien doesn’t show up until an hour into the movie, which would have upset me when I was young but old me finds that absolutely perfect. And by alien, we mostly just see his oozing black claw bathed in Italian horror lighting and so much fog. Instead of having a cool suit to fight the alien in, like the Power Loader Ripley wore in Aliens, our heroes just have construction equipment. Oh yeah, and a flamethrower, which Dr. Geoffrey delivers just in time to get stepped on by the xeroxomorph.
The word balls gets thrown around like, well, balls and the monster is more like a puppet, plus there’s a obvious mannequin death scene as all good Italian movies must possess. Napier is a real life special effect, starting the movie at eleven and going into numbers beyond the charts, eating scenery as if he’s Donald Pleasence in an Italian Wendy’s.
Man, how can you not be entertained by this? There’s a scene where Jane literally does a laundry list, saying “I’m singlw. Catholic. Angelo Saxon. And I don’t trust men who milk snakes” which made me laugh out loud. Cavalli is really spunky and cute in this and Margheriti is the least scummy of Italian genre directors as she just teases nudity whereas Mattei would have had her running through the jungle nude and reenacting that worm scene from Galaxy of Terror.
I’m so excited that Severin has re-released this on blu ray. Their new version has a 4K scan from the original negative, interviews with Margheriti’s son Edoardo and the North American debut of the documentary he made about his father, The Outsider – The Cinema of Antonio Margheriti. Order it now from Severin.