CANNON MONTH 2: Rage (1993)

Jack Dameron (Richard Norton, Rage and Honor) was raised by Mr. Fung (Joe Mari Avellana) after his family was gunned down. Seeing as how Fung was business partners with his father, he feels bound by honor to raise Jack along with his son Chiang.

Fast forward and Jack is getting promoted to chairman of his adopted father’s company — Chiang (Franco Guerrero) is into some dark stuff — and his wife Sarah (Karen Moncrieff) is going to be a trial attorney in Thailand despite being a gaijin.

To get back at Jack, Chiang sets him up for the murder of Noi (Tetchie Agbayani), a woman who Jack maybe got drunk and slept with at a trade show. He has his Jamaican henchman I-Ron (Chuck Jeffreys) force her to call Jack, who rushes over just in time to find her stabbed, and then the police arrive just in time for them to find her blood all over Jack.

Chiang is now in charge and Jack has to rely on his wife as his lawyer, but he also has to tell her that he cheated on her. And now she’s pregnant, too? Oh man.

If direct to video martial arts movies have taught me anything, complex legal matters and relationship issues are best solved with kicking someone really hard.

Director Anthony Maharaj also made Return of the KickfighterInnocent AdulteryThe Fighter and Secrets of the Shell which promises to be about “Seduction, Betrayal, Obsession – Erupt to the Rhythms of an Exotic Caribbean Island.”

Writer Tom Huckabee produced and wrote Taking Tiger Mountain as well as being involved with writing four episodes of the Ghostbreakers series.

CANNON MONTH 2: Midnight Witness (1993)

Paul (Paul Johansson) is in trouble. He accidentally filmed Officer Garland (Maxwell Caulfield) beating a suspect to death, so now that evil policeman wants to get the tape and take out the cameraman. Paul screws up by bringing his girlfriend Katy (Karen Moncrieff) into all this danger but things go from bad to worse when redneck maniac Lance (Jan-Michael Vincent) and his equally messed up girlfriend Devon (Kelli Maroney) kidnap them Kalifornia-style.

Director and writer Peter Foldy does fine with this except for when Lance and Devon completely disappear and you miss them, because they’re the best part of this movie.

Unless you love direct to video action movies — well, this is not really all that filled with action, but that’s the closest it gets — or want to see Maxwell Caulfield in a cop uniform and I know who you are, you can skip this.

Or you can watch it on Tubi.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY BOX SET RELEASE: seaQuest DSV – The Complete Series (1993-1996)

Get ready for the adventures of the seaQuest DSV 4600, a deep submergence vehicle of the United Earth Oceans Organization (UEO). The UEO? Well, that group was created in 2018 — in the continuity of this show — after a battle within the Livingston Trench.

Designed by retired naval captain Nathan Bridger (Roy Scheider), the series begins as humanity finds itself out of natural resources and begins to mine the ocean floor. Several gold rush-style mining communities now exist within this unexplored territory and the seaQuest seeks to protect them from other countries and sometimes each other.

Bridger just wanted to stay retired, particularly after his son Robert died in a naval battle and he promised his dying wife that he would never go back to the sea. But you know…they keep bringing pulling him back.

This show debuted to great fanfare, with the first season’s plots all about oceanographic research, environmental issues, politics and the interpersonal relationships of the crew. By the end of the first season, low ratings led to a cliffhanger where Bridger sacrificed the ship to prevent an ecological disaster.

And that’s where things get weird.

When it was decided the show would come back, NBC and Universal moved production from Los Angeles to Orlando, which led Stephanie Beacham, who played Dr. Kristin Westphalen, to leave the show (all of the battles between the producers and network didn’t help either). It’s also why Stacy Haiduk (Lieutenant Commander Katherine Hitchcock) left, but Royce D. Applegate (Chief Manilow Crocker) and John D’Aquino (Lieutenant Benjamin Krieg ) were let go because NBC wanted a younger crew.

The original crew also had Lucas Wolenczak (Jonathan Brandis), Commander Jonathan Ford (Don Franklin), Lieutenant Tim O’Neill (Ted Raimi) and Sensor Chief Miguel Ortiz (Marco Sanchez). They’d be joined by the telepathic Dr. Wendy Smith (Rosalind Allen), weapons officer Lieutenant James Brody (Edward Kerr), genetically engineered gill-breathing Seaman Anthony Piccolo (Michael DeLuise), Lieutenant Lonnie Henderson (Kathy Evison) and Dagwood (Peter DeLuise), a GELF (genetically engineered life form) who served as the ship’s janitor.

Whereas season one often had serious science — and each episode ended with facts from oceanographer Dr. Bob Ballard, the technical advisor for the show, inspiration from Bridger and the man who actually discovered the wrecks of Titanic, Bismarck and Yorktown — other than finding an ancient spaceship, season two had a monster of the week feel to compete for better ratings. Demons, aliens, fire-breathing worms, the god Neptune, time travel, a prehistoric crocodile and so much more was, well, too much for Scheider to handle.

He referred to the new storylines, giving multiple interviews to the Orlando Sentinel where he said the show as “Saturday afternoon 4 o’clock junk for children. Just junk — old, tired, time-warp robot crap” and “…childish trash…I am very bitter about it. I feel betrayed… It’s not even good fantasy. I mean, Star Trek does this stuff much better than we can do it. To me the show is now 21 Jump Street meets Star Dreck.” That 21 Jump Street dig must have been directed at the DeLuise brothers, who were once on that show before joining the cast.

By the end of the second season, it seemed like the show would be canceled — yet again — so the final episode “Splashdown” has the crew being abducted by aliens, then fighting in a civil war that destroys the seaQuest — yet again! — and everyone dead.

And yet the third season happened!

Scheider requested to be released from his contract with NBC but was asked to appear in a few more episodes. Edwin Kerr asked to quit as well and was asked to stay long enough to die in season 3’s “SpinDrift,” while NBC’s scheduling — which contributed to low ratings as the series moved around all the time — caused the episode “Brainlock” to air with his character still alive.

Now, only Jonathan Brandis, Don Franklin and Ted Raimi stayed on, as if the show was a band playing ribfest with hardly any original members left (even Dr. Bob Ballard was gone). Now called seaQuest 2032, the crew arrived ten years back on Earth ten years later, Bridger retired and Michael Ironside came on as Captain Oliver Hudson. He immediately set some boundaries: “You won’t see me fighting any man-eating glowworms, rubber plants, 40-foot crocodiles and I don’t talk to Darwin.”

Oh yeah — Darwin was a talking dolphin voice by the man who is every talking animal, Frank Welker.

Elise Neal also joined the show as Lieutenant J.J. Fredericks as storylines moved more toward corporate greed running the world and political tension. Only 13 episodes aired before finally, the show was done for good.

There were model kits, trading cards, video games and even Playmates action figures (check out this article on seaQuest Vault), but the show always struggled to catch on with viewers, if they could find it.

Going back and watching this again in box set form, it’s fascinating to see how the show changes and struggles for direction in a condensed format. Week by week, it’s not as strange. When binged, it seems absolutely deranged. I’m glad in some way that I wasn’t in love with the show when it aired. It would have broken my heart.

The Mill Creek blu ray box set of seaQuest DSV has every episode of the show, plus new interviews and featurettes with the series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, as well as the directors and crew. Plus, you get several deleted scenes. Get it from Deep Discount.

CANNON MONTH 2: Night Terrors (1993)

So yes, by adding Cannon Video and this late in their life movie, we can say that Tobe Hooper did four movies for Cannon. Written by Rom Globus — I’m unsure if he’s related — and Daniel Matmor, this was produced by the revised Cannon team of Yoram Globus and Christopher Pearce along with Harry Alan Towers and Allan Greenblatt.

Robert Englund was signed early, thinking that this was a movie about Marquis de Sade based on his short stories, but then he’d be playing an evil relative of de Sade named Paul Chevalier. Then the movie moved from a period movie to a modern story. Then the shooting location changed from Egypt to Israel. Then the original director Gerry O’Hara quit.

In an issue of Fangoria, Hooper spoke highly of the movie, saying “Nightmare is not exactly a horror film, even if there are many horror elements in it. It’s more of an erotic thriller, and I’m very happy to be able to do something different.” The title changed along the way as well.

Beth (Chandra West) goes to Israel to meet her father, the archaeologist Dr. Matteson (William Finley, who like Englund was in a much better Hooper movie, Eaten Alive) who is studying Gnostic cult ruins. One night, as Beth wanders the streets, she’s nearly attacked by some men and saved by a woman who has a book from de Sade. Her father is killed as he finally gets into the burial ground and the cult kidnaps her for a sacrifice when she’s not passing out and having dreams about a horse racer making sweet love to her. Then the girl helps her escape the cult and then some monks save the day, then we go back in time to the day de Sade died.

You may read that and say, “That makes no sense.”

You’re right.

Honestly, if Jess Franco made this, I would have loved it. That said, he would have found a way to make it more interesting. This is an absolute mess with wild overacting, non-stop sex dreams that get in the way of the plot and no plot for them to get in the way of.

This was a Global Pictures movie, even if it has the Cannon logo.

You can listen to The Cannon Canon episode that discusses this movie here.

CANNON MONTH 2: American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1993)

World War III has made the human race sterile. If that’s not bad enough, an AI now rules all of humanity. So when Mary (Nicole Hansen, who was in the Billy Idol videos for “Cradle of Love” and “L.A. Women”) is able to bring a fetus to life, she must take it through the most dangerous city on the planet.

Charleston, South Carolina.

Anyways, she has to get the baby to Europe, where humans still run things, but an android killer (John Saint Ryan) is tracking her, but luckily, she has another mulleted cyborg, Austin (Joe Lara, who was Tarzan on the syndicated Tarzan: The Epic Adventures), protecting her.

Directed by Cannon vet Boaz Davidson and written by Bill Crounse and Brent V. Friedman, this is the kind of movie that puts a baby in the kind of tube that you would use at a drive-thru bank. Yes, I still use the bank instead of the internet. I fear the computers in this movie.

CANNON MONTH: The Mummy Lives (1993)

You may notice that after Cannon breaks up, both Menahem and Yoram go to the works of Edgar Allan Poe — this is based on the story “Some Words with A Mummy” — and if you think for a second, it makes sense, as Poe has a great name for horror but is also dead and his stories are in the public domain.

Aziru (the very Egyptian Tony Curtis) made love to Khonshu’s — called Xoth here — concubine Kia and had to pay the price, getting entombed for centuries until a Rupert Murdoch-esque media owner named Lord Moxton (Jack Cohen) loots the temple that Aziru has been buried inside. Lesie Hardy plays Sandra Barnes who, you guessed it, is the reincarnation of Kia and now, Aziru must act as Dr. Mohassid and make his way through modern life to find her.

Also: this movie starts with nearly five minutes of explosition about how the Egyptians invented astrology and I was there for all of that.

This is a movie where Tony Curtis says stuff like “Get out of my tomb!” and decides that if they say it’s based on Poe, no one will realize that it’s the same exact movie as the Universal version of The Mummy, except you know, really boring. Yes, a movie where Tony Curtis is a mummy who must killed the people who robbed hsi tomb and also kill Sandra so that he can pay back his debt to Xoth ends up being slow and that’s ridiculous.

This was the last movie directed by Gerry O’Hara, who guided me into puberty with his Oliver Reed-starring Fanny Hill and Joan Collins movie The Bitch, and it was written by Nelson Gidding, a far step removed from his scripts for The Haunting and The Andromeda Strain.

At one point, Ken Russell was going to direct this and Christopher Lee or Anthony Perkins would star. Producer Harry Alan Towers said it was a mistake to hire Curtis, as he didn’t fit the movie. I know — I just wrote a few hundred words saying exactly that and didn’t put up thousands of dollars to make this movie.

CANNON MONTH 2: American Ninja V (1993)

This was not originally intended to be part of the American Ninja franchise — the working title was Little Ninja Man — and Cannon Pictures almost name it American Dragons.

David Bradley plays Joe Kastle instead of the Sean Davidson character from American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt and American Ninja 4: The Annihilation. He takes on Hiro (Lee Reyes, brother of Ernie Jr.), the nephew of the last true ninja Master Tetsu (Pat Morita), as his apprentice. But Hiro just wants to play video games.

Meanwhile, Joe’s love interest Lisa (Anne Dupont) has been kidnapped by Viper (James Lew) and his technicolored band of ninjas. It turns out that Lisa’s father is being forced to make nerve gas for a Latin American dictator by Glock (Clement von Franckenstein). That means that Jack and Hiro must save her, but first, Hiro must endure a 5-minute training montage.

Director Bob Bralver also made Midnight Ride for Cannon. The script was from Greg Latter (Delta Force 3: The Killing Game), George Saunders (Scanner Cop) and John Bryant (Martial Outlaw). This is a boring close to the American Ninja films, but we always have the others to watch whenever we need to.

CANNON MONTH 2: Street Knight (1993)

Albert Magnoli directed Purple RainAmerican Anthem and took over for Andrei Konchalovsky — but was not named for his work — on Tango & Cash. It’s the second lead for American Kenpo fighter Jeff Speakman, who was a direct to video regular.

Speakman plays Jeff Barrett, a former cop who once failed to save a hostage from a disturbed criminal and left the force in disgrace. Now, he repairs cars. He ends up in the middle of a gang war between the Latin Lords and Blades, which is really being instigate by a group of criminals who want to take over the gangs’ business. Even worse, the criminals are corrupt cops led by James Franklin (Christopher Neame), so there’s no one for Barrett to trust but himself.

If you’re wondering, “Will our hero get put in the same exact situation that took his life down this dark path?” you have seen enough direct to video ex-cop movies.

This movie was also sold as The Perfect Weapon 2 after the first movie that Speakman played the lead in. It’s been said that this film ruined his career but I didn’t think it was all that bad.

This movie is dedicated to the united kenpo family and for gang truce everywhere.


CANNON MONTH 2: Prison Heat (1993)

Colleen (Rebecca Chambers), Bonnie (Lori Jo Hendrix), Audrey (Kena Land) and Michelle (Gilya Stern)were happy just riding their van through Europe scream singing “Oh Susanna” and hanging out in Greece when they decide to go to Turkey and never saw Midnight Express. Before you can say Ilsa, they’ve had cocaine planted on them and end up in prison, which as you can expect is everything a WIP movie entails, like a long shower scene, brutal guards, assault from male and female tormentors, a tough butch woman abusing them all by the name of Hellena (Toni Naples, Deathstalker II) and a warden named Saladeen (Uri Gavriel) who brands women and sells them into slavery.

Do you think Menahem Golan looked at what Cannon was making after he left and hung his head? Do you think he worried that Joel Silberg had gone from making Breakin‘ and Rappin’ to just making a very by the numbers prison movie? Or did he spit on the ground when he thought of Silberg, angry that he had the gall to direct Lambada for Yoram?

Regardless, this movie does have one great line of dialogue. Before Bonnie cuts off the balls of the warden, she says, “Some people like soft tobacco pouches. Me, I just want a coin purse.” Then the girls get back in the van and sing “Oh Susanna” again, but this time, it has a certain sadness to it.

Arnold Week: Beretta’s Island (1993)

Franco Armando Beretta (Franco Columbu) is a retired Interpol officer who just so happens to train with Arnold Schwarzenegger, just like the real life Franco. The Sardinian Strongman had been in a few movies before — Stay HungryConan the BarbarianThe TerminatorBig Top Pee-Wee — but now he was producing, writing and even directing a series of movies that includes Desperate CrimesTaken AliveDoublecross On Costas’s Island and Ancient Warriors.

Franco takes his shirt off every time he gets the chance to and he lives in Sardinia, showing off the beach, the festivals, the folk music and so much more. What more could you ask from a former prizefighter turned Interpol agent and now a winemaker? How about a message movie? Franco starts the movie off with this quote: “Sardinia is my homeland. This beautiful island has always been a refuge for me; untouched by the destructive effects of greed and drugs. Several years ago I was disheartened to find that drugs had infiltrated my precious Island, bringing with them winds of evil that have poisoned even the children of the land. This film is dedicated to the fight against drugs, and to those who have worked to stop the plague of drugs in every country. These are the true heroes of our time and I salute each one of them with gratitude and respect.”

This is also a movie — again — with a three and a half minute long workout scene, as well as having Ken Kercheval, Jo Champa and Elizabeth Kaitan in the cast.

Seriously, this movie seems to be a home movie by Franco mixed in with scenes where he fights drug dealers, several of them needing to duck down when he throws punches because Franco was just 5’5″. That said, he was a ripped 185 pounds who could deadlift 750 pounds and I would never ever consider making fun of him. I’m in love with the films that he made and the career that he left behind.