Moon 44 (1990)

Critics didn’t care for Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi warm up to Universal Soldier (1992), Stargate (1994), and Independence Day, but I’ve always enjoyed this galactic cocktail that pours one part Escape from New York (a disgruntled ex-soldier/anti-hero Felix “Don’t call me Snake” Stone) and two equal parts of Outland and Alien into a Roger Corman New World Pictures commemorative tumbler that’s shaken and poured over Blade Runner.

Toto? We’re not on LV 426 anymore. I think this is “the dark side” of Moon 44!

In the year 2038, in the wake of all of Earth’s natural resources being depleted, multinational corporations—as in Creature (1985)—have taken control of the galaxy and battle each other for mining rights. The two leading companies, Pyrite Defense and Galactic Mining, are in a current battle over a grouping of moons—46, 47, and 51—in a remote region of space known as the Outer Zone. Pyrite has already taken control of the moons and stole two of Galactic Mining’s mineral shuttles—and they’re on their way to take Moon 44.

So Galactic Mining hires Stone (Michael Pare of Eddie and the Cruisers and Streets of Fire) who, to get out of his contract, must take an undercover mission—as a prisoner, along with other prisoners that’ll be granted full pardons for flying a fleet of Airwolf meets Blue Thunder hybrid battle-choppers to protect the mining operation. While there, Stone mixes it up with fellow prisoner O’Neal (Brian Thompson, who made his debut in Sly Stallone’s Cobra) and the crooked mining operation defense officers played by Malcolm McDowell (Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot, American Satan, FOX News mogul Rupert Murdoch in 2019’s Bombshell) and Leon Rippy (General West in Stargate, HBO’s Deadwood).

So, is Moon 44 galactic flotsam and jetsam for the Death Star’s trash compactors? Eh, for a $15 million budgeted B-Movie shot in West Germany, Moon 44 certainly looks great, thanks to cinematographer Karl Walter Linderlaub (who shot Universal Soldier, Stargate, and Independence Day), and the up-against-the-budget production designs by Oliver Scholl and Sven Hass. (While Hass faded from the business, Scholl pressed onward, working on Edge of Tomorrow, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Suicide Squad.)

Moon 44 served as the final mainstream film of actor Stephen Geoffreys, who portrayed Cookie, a drug-dealing military flight navigator. After starting out with memorable roles in the ‘80s hits Heaven Help Us, Fraternity Vacation, Fright Night (as Evil Ed), and 976-Evil, he left Hollywood to work in gay porn—under the names Larry Bent and Sam Ritter. And it was also the last acting gig for Dean “I’m not John Cryer” Devlin, who rose through the ranks of Hollywood as a writer and producer, most recently with Geostorm (2017).

Originally intended for an American theatrical release, the producers eventually realized the film’s shortcoming as a weak competitor to the films from where it pinched all of its ideas, so it became a popular direct-to-video rental (marketed as “The Most Thrilling Adventure Since Star Wars,” and “The Most Suspenseful Journey Since Aliens”) and was part of a “Moon” TV syndication package that aired on American UHF-TV alongside Dark Side of the Moon (1990) and Moontrap (1989).

You can watch free VHS rips of Moon 44 on You Tube HERE and HERE.

And while we’re on the subject of cool, little sci-fi films such as Moon 44, The Dark Side of the Moon, and Creature, be sure to check out our reviews for two clever, ultra-low budgeted sci-fi films filled with more heart and soul than most big-budget studio romps: Space Trucker Bruce and Ares 11. You’ll be glad that you did.

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.

Top Cop (1990)

Who does a Top Cop battle? Well, after he loses his partner, he goes up against a drug kingpin and his goons. There’s too much corruption. There’s too much strife. And way too many trans fat oils if this is what a top cop looked like in 1990.

Vic Malone, the top cop of the title, blows up eateries and saves women and pretty much gives his life for our entertainment, if home movies can be considered at such a high level. As the star, stunt coordinator, associate producer and special effects for this movie, Stephen P. Sides took on many roles. He did all of them probably as well as he could. Ah, Crown International, what magical BS you weave before my eyeballs giving these movies money and then somehow, decades later, they end up in my living room.

The director, Mark L. Maness, has the nickname of Chunky. He’s the kind of affable dude who wears a t-shirt under a blazer and is given to quotes like, “Dreams are the fabric from which we can weave our reality.”

If by fabric, you mean Cottonnelle, then yes, fabric.

Somehow, Leonard Maltin said that this was the best erotic thriller of 1990. So, if this movie teaches you anything, it’s that even Leonard Maltin can be swayed by blow, both in the occupation and the noun forms of the word.

Much like so many of the movies we’re watching this week, this is available on the Mill Creek Explosive Cinema set. If you’re feeling as sadomasochistic as me, it’s the best movie that I’ve ever seen set in Arkansas about drug-fighting cops with type 2 diabetes.

The Dark Side of the Moon (1990)

In the year 2022 the maintenance ship SpaceCore 1 is dispatched to repair a Moon-orbital weapons platform and ends up adrift over the galactic-path of Earth’s The Bermuda Triangle—and on a collision course with a paranormal mirror of the geographical anomaly on the Moon. Running out of fuel and oxygen, the crew boards a 20th century NASA space shuttle—believed lost during an emergency ocean landing off the Florida coast—with the hopes of salvaging supplies. Then, one by one, the crew is possessed and killed by a spiritual presence that’s linked to the triangle, the dark side of the moon—and Satan.

Holy galactic déjà vu, Ripley.

Yes. This movie is that celluloid Titchener-moment you couldn’t quite place when you watched the multi-million dollar major-studio failures of Paul W.S Anderson’s (Mortal Kombat) Event Horizon (1997) and Walter Hill’s (Streets of Fire) Supernova (2008).

While this low-budget variant of Ridley Scott’s Alien—which traded out the usual gooey xenomorph (see William Malone’s 1985 Creature) with Satan—was a direct-to-video release, we fondly remember seeing it as part of an early ‘90s UHF-TV Saturday afternoon syndication package with 1989’s Moontrap (starring Star Trek’s Walter Koenig and Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell) and Roland Emmerich’s pre-Stargate offering, 1990’s Moon 44.

Granted, SpaceCore 1’s crew isn’t as scruffy as the USCSS Nostromo’s. And its interiors aren’t as dazzling as Roger Corman’s slightly-more-expensive Morgantus-bound The Quest from Galaxy of Terror (repurposed from Corman’s even-more-expensive Battle Beyond the Stars . . . and has an innermost-fears-that-kill plot instead of biblical demons). Yeah, SpaceCore 1’s “Mother” computer reimaged as a human-looking leather dominatrix robot is a bit silly—in a Galaxina kind-of-way. But there’s no denying The Dark Side of the Moon is charming (like Ed Hunt’s crazy-fun Starship Invasions) and more engrossing than most of today’s CGI-modern space romps (e.g., the 2009 rip-off of 1973’s The Star Lost: Pandorum; the 2016 rip-off of 1997’s The Titanic: Passengers), with its where-is-this-going-kitchen-sink-plotting rife with biblical references, and making Satan—and not ancient astronauts—responsible for The Bermuda Triangle.

It’s unfortunate The Dark Side of the Moon served as the lone theatrical-directing effort by music video purveyor D.J Webster (best known for ‘Til Tuesday’s 1985 MTV hit “Voices Carry”), as he’s skilled at working against an economical budget and showed a-video-to-feature film-transitional promise. However, the screenwriting brother-duo of Carey and Chad Hayes, who made their debut with this film, climbed the Hollywood ladder to worldwide success with James Wan’s The Conjuring franchise. Their latest effort is the in-production sixth installment of the Die Hard franchise, McClane. And proving that everyone in Hollywood has to start somewhere, Carey and Chad Hayes started in the business as actors in the never-released-to-DVD classic, Rad (1985), while Chad appeared in the how-in-the-hell-did-this-ever-get-made gem, Death Spa (1989).

From Rad to McClane? That’s awesome . . . and a bag of chips.

Fans of Joe Turkel, who portrayed Lloyd the Bartender in The Shining and Dr. Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner (but we remember him best for American International Picture’s The Dirty Dozen rip-off The Devil’s Eight), will want to watch, as this served as his final film before his retirement. Leading man Will Bledsoe, who made his feature film debut in 1984’s Up the Creek (remember the Cheap Trick song?), also made this his final film. Rounding out the cast of familiar TV faces is Alan Blumenfeld (but you remember him best as Mr. Liggett; his wife “reproduced asexually” in WarGames), John Diehl (TV’s Miami Vice, Stargate, City Limits), and Camilla More (Tina in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) as Lesli, the ship’s silky-smooth, human-looking A.I—complete with ruby-red lipstick and a dominatrix-leather uniform. And, sadly, we have to raise a cold one for Robert Sampson, who we lost this past January. With TV credits that date back to the late ‘50s, you remember him best as Dean Halsey in Re-Animator and Commission Jamison in Charles Band and Stuart Gordon’s Robot Jox.

Not only is The Dark Side of the Moon fondly remembered in the states, it has a rabid international fan base as well. The German black metal band Nargaroth samples the German-language dub of the film (the dialog of Alan Blumenfeld’s demon-possessed character) in their homage track “The Dark Side of the Moon” from 2004’s Prosatanica Shooting Angels. Swedish death metallers Crypt of Kerberos use those same Blumenfeld-samples (in English) on their 1991 track, “Devastator.”

Now that’s the true sign of a successful movie: no one is sampling dialog from Event Horizon or Supernova anytime soon.

This past June Unearthed Films restored The Dark Side of the Moon to Blu-ray with an audio commentary track by producers Paul White (the ‘80s rental favs The Unamable, Bride of Re-Animator) and Stephen Biro (2010’s A Serbian Film, 2019’s Beneath the Black Veil), along with an interview featuring “Satan” himself, actor Alan Blumenfeld.

Be sure to catch up on all of the Alien knockoffs and rip-offs with our explorations “Ten Movies that Rip-off Alien” and “A Whole Bunch of Alien Rip-offs all at Once.” And there’s more celluloid déjà vu of the Event Horizon and Supernova variety afoot with 2020’s Underwater. And, finally, since there’s always a pinch of Star Wars in all post-1977 sci-fi films, you can catch up with all of the George Lucas-inspired rip-offs with our “Star Wars Droppings” week.

But make no mistake: The Dark Side of the Moon isn’t an Alien rip-off or a Star Wars dropping: D.J Webster and the Hayes brothers gave us an intelligent-against-the-budget film with a unique twist on the glut of science fiction films produced in the wake of both of those blockbusters.

Simply put: The Dark Side of the Moon deserves your attention.

You can watch a rip of the old Vidmark Entertainment VHS on You Tube or you can watch a cleaner digital stream on TubiTv.

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.

Box Office Failures Week: The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)

Take it from someone who was there, 1990 belonged to Andrew “Dice” Clay.

That year, he became the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row. His albums sold hundreds of thousands of copies, a fact that would never be possible in today’s streaming world. His controversial episode of Saturday Night Light was the fourth highest-rated show of the season and caused cast member Nora Dunn and music guest Sinead O’Connor to not appear on the show.

You kind of had to be there.

Yet how has a movie so critically reviled in its homeland been so well-received overseas?

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane will leave you with many questions.

Ford Fairlane (Clay) is smoking on a beach. He smokes for most of the movie, as so much of Clay’s Diceman routine — which started as just part of his act and grew and, well, grew — was about smoking.

He flashes back to how he got here, as Bobby Black (Vince Neil, who deserves a similar fate after murderously screwing up Hanoi Rocks) collapses on stage and dies. Ford is hired by shock jock Howard…no, Johnny Crunch (Gilbert Gottfried) to find out what happened and what groupie Zuzu Petals (Maddie Corman, who went from movies like this and Beer League to playing Lady Aberlin in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) had to do with it.

Crunch is electrocuted on the air and now our detective must deal with all manner of rogues, from former disco cop Lt. Amos (Ed O’Neill, always wonderful), Smiley the hitman (Robert England), numerous ex-girlfriends who want him dead and a record executive named Julian Grendel (Wayne Newton!) who is bootlegging his own label’s music when he isn’t blowing up Fairlane’s beloved car and home up real good.

There’s also a koala bear. And Lauren Holly as Ford’s assistant, Jazz. And an orphan named The Kid, played by Brandon Call from Step by Step.

Along the way, you get David Patrick Kelly (Luther from The Warriors, as well as T-Bird from The Crow and the fan from Penn & Teller Get Killed), Morris Day, William Shockley (the stuntman who played the first person dispatched by RoboCop), Lala Zappa (who keeps showing up in movies I’ve been watching like this and Amityville: A New Generation), Kari Wuhrer (oh man, whatever happened to her? If anyone deserved to be in 1990’s neon giallo films, who else? Also, she is in Beastmaster 2ThinnerAnaconda and Berserker), Sheila E., showgirl Delia Sheppard (Penthouse Pet of the Month for April 1988 who is in Gregory Dark’s soft core movie Night Rhythms), Priscilla Presley, Kurt Loder and Tone Loc.

The music for this film is perhaps way better than the film, led by Billy Idol’s “Cradle of Love,” which had an awesome video directed by David Fincher. The Black Plague band that starts the film features not just Neil on vocals, but also former Ozzy bassist Phil Soussan, Quiet Riot’s Carlos Cavazzo on guitar and Randy Castillo, who was in Ozzy’s band and played for some time in Motley Crüe before his death.

Somehow, this movie made $1 million more than it cost — $20 million if you were wondering —  and was the big winner at the 1990 Golden Raspberry Awards, winning Worst Actor (Clay), tying with Blake Edwards’ Ghosts Can’t Do It for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay.

Speaking of that screenplay, the movie’s writers all went on to bigger and better things. Well, kind of. David Arnott wrote The Last Action Hero. James Cappe wrote for the Poltergeist: The Legacy TV show. And Dan Walters followed this up with Hudson Hawk (he also wrote Batman Returns and Demolition Man, so it’s not all bad). The characters came from Rex Weiner, who has the astounding title of creative consultant for Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (spoiler warning: he wrote it under the pen name Carlos Lazlo). He originally wrote tales of Ford Fairlane in The New York Rocker and L.A. Weekly.

Somehow, Renny Darlin just kept getting handed millions by Hollywood to make movies. Cutthroat IslandDeep Blue SeaExorcist: The Beginning? Oh Renny — what photos do you have and why do you keep using your blackmail to make these movies?

That said, I love this movie for this exchange:

Ford Fairlane: Hey, look. Write down my number: 555-6321 Got it?

Twin Club Girl: Yeah. Wait a minute. 555 is not a real number. They only use that in the movies.

Ford Fairlane: No shit, honey. What do you think this is? Real life?

You also have to love any movie that features fake bands like Ellen Aim and the Attackers (obviously from Streets of Fire), Brain of the Scarecrow, Alba Varden (the cruise ship from Lethal Weapon 2), Heather, Corey, Heather Cory and Young (a reference to the many Cory and Heather actors in the 90’s), Todd Times Two, 5000 Schizophrenics (10,000 Maniacs), Hot Tub Johnny and his Feline Friends, Mamma Waters Sings the Blues, Nine Sisters, Horses on Fire,  The Silver Belles, Fred and Ethyl (I Love Lucy), The Professor and Mary-Ann (Gilligan’s Island),  The Nakatomi Boys Choir (Die Hard), The Doctor Bellows Funk Machine (I Dream of Jeannie) and The Redheaded Gardner and his Flower.

Even better, Black Plague’s song titles are listed, such as “Hon, I Screwed the Kids,” “Polanski Nursery” and “I Love You.”

Also — as I know Joe Bob Briggs worries about these kinds of things, but the actual 1957 Fore Fairlane in the film was not actually blown up. That was a fiberglass replica.

So wait — remember what I said about this movie actually being a success in some places?

In post-communist Hungary, that’s where.

Pirated copies — featuring the voice of Hungarian singer and comedian Fero Nagy — became so popular that Hungarian youths would quote the film and the profanity filled lines Nagy added.

The film was also a big deal in Norway and in Spain, where it was dubbed by singer, actor and comedian Pablo Carbonell. I kind of dig the film’s title in Peru, which translates to Ford Fairlane: World Rock Police.

There was even a DC Comic book of this movie! Gerard Jones wrote it! I bought every issue!

What can I say? It was 1990. You had to be there.

Deadly Manor (1990)

Arrow Video put out José Ramón Larraz’s Edge of the Axe earlier this year and I loved every minute of it. While Deadly Manor isn’t quite as good, it’s still plenty strange. Just when you’re lulled into near-sleep by the numbers slasher plot, something absolutely and wonderfully bizarre happens, like the flashback to the bikers causing the accident or shocking nude photos of living, dead and perhaps not so dead people that show up throughout the film. Seriously, if nudity bothers you, this is not the movie for you.

On their way to a lake that no one can pronounce, some kids pick up a drifter with a dark past — don’t they all have those — and head to an abandoned mansion that has a car shrine up front, coffins in the basement and a closet full of scalps. And oh yeah — the same gorgeous yet evil woman has a photo up every few inches.

Everybody is soon about to be snuffed, but you knew that just from the first few seconds of the movie.

Greg Rhodes is in this movie and Ghosthouse, which would make a great movie to pair this up with if you’re looking for a fun evening. Jerry Kernion, who is Peter, has had a pretty nice career after this debut. And Jennifer Delora, who is pretty fun as the killer, was the second woman in Miss America history to be dethroned after her nude scenes in Bad Girls Dormitory became fodder for those easily upset. She’s also in all manner of genre favorites like Robot HolocaustSuburban CommandoBedroom Eyes II and Frankenhooker.

Seriously — hang out for the first hour or so of this movie. You’ll be rewarded with something really special when it comes to the final girl and the last twenty minutes or so.

As always, Arrow has gone all out for a movie that not many people were all that concerned about. So what! This features a new 2K scan, interviews with actress Jennifer Delora, Brian Smedley-Aston and Larraz (archival, not new, as he died in 2013) and a trailer for the Savage Lust VHS release. There’s also a commentary track with Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan.

You can buy Deadly Manor from Arrow Video, who were kind enough to send us a review copy.

The Amityville Curse (1990)

Austrian-born ghost hunter Professor Dr. Hans Holzer wrote the book Murder In Amityville that the incredibly salacious and totally awesome Amityville II: The Possession was based on. Eight years later,  The Amityville Curse was made, based on another of his books. Holzer wrore a hundred plus books, so people really need to get on making more movies based on his crazy ideas.

This was directed by Tom Berry, who is mainly is known as a producer, helping make movies like Scanners II: The New OrderThe Paperboy and Screamers. If you rented movies in the 1990’s, you probably picked up a movie that he touched from far away in the Great White North.

Marvin and Debbie bought the house next to the Amityville house because, well, we wouldn’t have a movie if they didn’t. It’s possessed because there’s a tunnel that connects the houses. And also, yes, if it wasn’t possessed I probably wouldn’t be watching this movie.

They bring up some of their friends to help get it back in shape, like Frank (Kim Coates, Carlo from Battlefield Earth), Abigail (Cassandra Gava, the witch who tries to seduce Arnold in Conan the Barbarian) and Bill.

Frank ends up possessed and kills just about everyone but the ladies. He also wipes out Mrs. Moriarty, the former housekeeper. And there’s also a story of a priest who died here when the house was once a rectory. This doesn’t reach the absurd heights of some of the other Amityville films, but it does have a dude getting shot with a nailgun, so there’s that.

As of now, this is the only entry in the Amityville series to be unavailble in the United States on DVD. You can, however, watch it on Amazon Prime.

The Gate II: Trespassers (1990)

Hungarian born director Tibor Takacs was the recording engineer behind Toronto punk bands The Viletones and the Cardboard Brains before he became a director. He’s probably best known for the 1987 movie The Gate, of course, which leads us to today’s film. He also made the pilot movie for the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which makes some sense somehow.

This was written — as was the original — by Michael Nankin. His first film was Midnight Madness, but he’s since moved on to directing, working on TV shows like American GothicLife Goes OnCSIBattlestar GalacticaCapricaDefianceVan Helsing and more.

Five years after the events of the first movie, Terrence has had to say goodbye to Glen, who moved away. His own family has gotten much worse, as his father’s drinking has gotten out of control after the death of his mother. That means that the lure of the gate — and its power — is now stronger than ever.

Terrence breaks into Glen’s old house and begins the ritual all over again with the hopes of getting his father’s life together. Meanwhile, three teens — John (James Villemaire, who was in another movie I watched this week, Zombi 5: Killing Birds), Moe and Liz (Pamela Adlon, who in addition to being in Grease 2 was the voice of Bobby Hill on King of the Hill) — break in.

Liz is super down with demonology, so she convinces the others to help Terrance with his ritual. One of the minions from the last film comes through the Gate and John freaks out and shoots it. Luckily — or unluckily — it survives and Terrance keeps it as a pet.

The next day, Terrance’s wish comes true as his father gets a job flying for a major carrier. However, all of the wishes literally turn into, well, excrement. The food that John and Moe devour and the car that Liz wishes for turn into giant cow pies while the plane Terrance’s dad is flying crashes, critically injuring him.

Soon, the two boys are demons after the minion gets loose and turns them. They want to sacrifice Liz to Satan, as you do, but Terrence stops them with his mother’s jewelry box, which he’s transformed into a vessel of light.

Despite dying, Terrance is able to escape his coffin, followed by the human forms of John and Moe. Our hero gets the girl and even his hamster returns from the dead.

The Gate II is in no way as good as the original, but it’s still plenty of fun. It also boasts some great non-CGI effects from Randall William Cook, who started at Disney and also worked with  Takacs on the original film and I, Madman (he’s actually the title character, in addition to doing the effects). Since then, he’s been the Animation Director for all of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth films, as well as working on Fright Night and numerous Full Moon films.

You can get this from Shout! Factory or watch it on Amazon Prime.

Mister Frost (1990)

As you may know, I love lost films or movies that no one pays attention to any longer. Can you believe that I found one from 1990 with Jeff Goldblum in it? How does that happen?

Alan Bates (The Shout, The Wicked Lady) plays Felix Detweiler, a detective that starts the film by arresting the titular Mister Frost (Goldblum), who happily announces that he has all manner of bodies buried on his property.

Frost is arrested and goes to an insane asylum, where he doesn’t speak for two years. His identity can’t be figured out and Detweiler becomes obsessed by the case and the twenty four bodies they found at Frost’s home.

Frost finally speaks when he meets Dr. Sarah Day (Kathy Baker, The Right Stuff), telling her that he refuses to talk to anyone but her. Also, he’s Satan. Also also, he plans on getting her to murder him someday.

Detweiler, for one, is convinced that Frost really could be the devil. He might be right — Frost can do crazy things, like heal Day’s brother so that he can walk for the first time in years. Also, her patients and fellow doctors are being changed by Frost and not for the better.

To keep anyone else from Frost’s powers, Day agrees to kill him. He thanks her for believing in him, telling her that he’s now more powerful than anything or anyone in the world. Day shoots him mid-speech, yet finishes his last sentence in Frost’s voice. Now, she too refuses to speak.

It’s not a great movie, but it’s a fun one. And it’s not one you’re going to find easy — well, YouTube is your friend here — but one that you won’t be upset that you sat through. Goldblum as the devil? Yeah, I can see it.

I Come In Peace (1990)

Roslyn Frost shared a great list of holiday movies that no one else considers on her Twitter, which inspired this watch. You should totally check out her YouTube channel, which is awesome.

By the way, her list was…

  1. Christmas Evil
  2. Night of the Comet
  3. The Oracle 
  4. Calvaire
  5. Blood Beat
  6. Inside
  7. I Come in Peace

We were just discussing this movie as we opened Christmas gifts, because it has a different title now. Over the last few years, people have started referring to it by its original title Dark Angel, which was changed in the U.S. because there were two movies with that title in 1925 and 1935.

Director Craig R. Baxley started his career as a stuntman before moving into stunt coordination and second unit directing. Since then, he’s directed one of my favorite movies no one ever talks about — Stone Cold — as well as Action Jackson and the Stephen King adaptions Storm of the Century, Rose Red, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer and Kingdom Hospital.

Jack Caine is a rough around the edges cop — he’s Dolph Lundgren, too — who is at war with the White Boys, a gang of white collar drug dealers who do stuff like kill partners and blow up police stations. They’re led by Victor Manning, played by Sherman Howard, who was Bub in Day of the Dead.

Caine is partnered with a by-the-book federal agent named Arwood “Larry” Smith, played by Brian Benben who you may remember from the HBO series Dream On. If you were a teen when there was no internet and you wanted guaranteed nudity.

Meanwhile, an alien drug dealer named Talec has come to Earth to leech out peoples’ brains. He’s portrayed by Matthias Hues, who is related to Engelbert Humperdinck and took over Van Damme’s role for No Retreat, No Surrender 2. He’s being pursued by Azeck, an alien cop. The guy who played him Jay Bilas, is on ESPN as a college basketball announcer, as he played for Duke University and was drafted fifth in the 1986 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. He was an assistant coach at Duke and is a practicing attorney in North Carolina.

David Ackroyd, who was in the TV movies Exo-Man and The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, plays Smith’s boss. Betsy Brantley (the body model for Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) is Lundgren’s girlfriend, a coroner who helps him track the alien criminal. Michael J. Pollard has a cameo as a criminal, World Celebrity Chess Champion Jesse Vint (Forbidden WorldDeathsport) is Talec’s first victim and Al Leong shows up too, because he has to in any movie with cops and/or aliens.

Screenwriter David Koepp would move from this movie into some real blockbusters, like Death Becomes HerJurassic ParkCarlito’s WayThe ShadowMission: ImpossibleStir of Echoes (he also directed), Panic RoomSpider-ManIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and many more. He’s had an incredibly successful career and it all really got rolling here.

There’s been talk of a sequel for years, but at this point, I think only people like me — and maybe you reading this — would care. That said — I’m there whenever it comes out.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990)

This entry in the Silent Night, Deadly Night series has nothing to do with any of the others, dropping the killer Santa Caldwell brothers for an entirely new plot. It was directed by Brian Yuzna and written by Yuzna, Woody Keith and Arthur Gorson. In the UK, it’s called Bugs, which is a much more descriptive title.

Keith took several of the ideas he had for the movie Society but was unable to get into that movie. Thanks to the miracle of how movies are released, that film came out two years after this one.

Kim Levitt (Neith Hunter, who is also in Less Than Zero and Carnosaur 2) is an aspiring journalist working at the L.A. Eye. Her boss gives breaks to all the guys, including her boyfriend Hank.

However, when she finds a spontaneously combusted body on her sidewalk, she starts her own investigation. That brings her to the bookstore of Fima (Maud Adams, the titular heroine of the James Bond film Octopussy), who gives her a book on feminism and the occult.

On Christmas Eve, Kim spends a rough evening with her boyfriend’s family, dealing with way too many questions and anger about her lack of religious faith. On Christmas Day, she attends a picnic Fima invited her to, where she meets Katherine Harrison (Jeanne Bates, Mrs. X from Eraserhead) and Jane Yanana (Sheeva from Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), who tells her about Adam’s first wife Lilith.

Merry Christmas, huh?

Soon, our heroine’s writing career is going well but she’s eating bugs and drinking weird tea and you know, it’s tannis root all over again. She passes out, only to awaken to Jane, Fima, Katherine, and Li performing a ritual where they cut open a live rat, pulls out some larva and shove it inside her secret garden. It then comes out of her mouth as a vomited giant roach, which their assistant Ricky (Clint Howard!) slices up and drips all over her face.

The mania continues with her running to her man’s apartment and Ricky following her to stab Hank to death. Her co-worker Janice comes to help  — no she doesn’t she’s in on all this — before taking her back to meet Fima. Janice is played by Allyce Beasley, who you may remember as teh secretary from TV’s Moonlighting.

This all leads to the Curse of Lilith, burning bugs, Ricky wiping out a family, an office holiday party and Reggie Bannister from Phantasm playing Eli, the horrible boss. Oh yeah — you also get to watch a gigantic insect eat Clint Howard, which really sounds like the best Christmas gift possible for me. Thank you, everyone involved.

You can watch this for free — with ads — on Vudu.