GREGORY DARK WEEK: Secret Games 3 (1994)

A bored housewife feels neglected by her physician husband — yes, I realize that this is the plot of every Gregory Dark movie that I’ve written about this week — and decides to work at a brothel. Rochelle Swanson is pretty decent as the lead, Diana Larson, and her sister Brenda is in this as well. Of course, you know what happens by now. She has a client that won’t let her quit and taking a bite out of that forbidden apple ends up with a worm.

Terrell is the psycho coming after her and it’s a role that Woody Brown also did in Animal Instincts II for the director.

However, here’s what takes me out of the story: what man — Dean Scofield plays the husband and he’s fine, but no heartbreaker — would ignore Rochelle Swanson in favor of his job? I mean, when I was a kid I could never figure out why Al Bundy ignored Peg, who pretty much looked like more an ideal woman to me than any of the girls who strutted out and got the studio audience in whooping fits. This is even more extreme, but that’s Hollywood.

It’s still amazing that Wally Pfister shot this movie before he started working with Christopher Nolan. I mean, you get work where you can and build your resume. He’s got the soft focus thing right on this.

So anyways, here’s a confession: when I first moved to college, my goal was to finally see a Dark Brothers movie after reading about them in Hustler. Luckily, there was a video store close to my off campus housing and one day, I got brave enough to go in back and grab two films: Dark’s New Wave Hookers 2 and John Leslie’s Curse of the Cat Woman. What had helped was that the store was owned by a college student who ran the store in-between classes. I didn’t know that when he did have a class, his grandmother came in to run the store. So I go in, guy my age. Come out, an older distinguished woman who proceeded to lecture me about being a pervert.

You kids and your internet.

GREGORY DARK WEEK: Object of Obsession (1994)

Back in the days of landlines, wrong numbers could just happen. Yes, we once couldn’t look and see where a call was coming from. And in Object of Obsession, one of those calls is answered by Margaret (Erika Anderson, A Nightmare of Elm Street 5: The Dream Child). Soon, she’s having an affair with a stranger that starts sexy and ends in kidnapping, but Margaret is by no means helpless. And oh man — Scott Valentine from Family Ties is in this.

But unlike the other Gregory Dark erotic thrillers — referenced when Margaret watches Secret Games 2 — she’s not the untouchable airbrushed sexual creature so often striding through his other movies. Instead, she’s quite close to a normal woman and when she does get to express herself sexually, it isn’t through the normal fog world of dreams that Dark usually shows.

There’s not even any saxophone!

This is as close as a Dark softcore movie will get to being a true independent art movie and the results are, well, pretty great. Just when you think he’s settled in, the man changes it all on you.

GREGORY DARK WEEK: Animal Instincts 2 (1994)

Joanne Fleming (Shannon Whirry) likes to be watched.

Her neighbor Steve (Woody Brown) likes to watch and has put cameras in every room of her apartment.

But when she falls for Eric (Al Sapienza) instead of him, well, things may not go so well.

You have to love a movie that’s made for people who want to watch that looks at the bad side of voyeurism. Kind of like when Gregory Dark made adult films, he made things that were as violently non-sexy as possible, like men in white hoods having sex with a black woman and fish slapping people as a continually returning metaphor. He’s the man that ended New Waves Hookers 2 with a bomb inside Madison Stone’s ass killing her and the hero. He’s not going to make something normal just because he’s making something mainstream. Also, consider that that something mainstream entails movies that are steamy, foggy, neon-lit and filled with sex.

Dark is in the X-Rated Critics Organization Hall of Fame, while cinematographer Wally Pfister and editor Bob Murawski, who worked on this movie, would respectively win Oscars for Inception and The Hurt Locker.

GREGORY DARK WEEK: Secret Games 2: The Escort (1993)

There’s no spark between college professor Heather and Kyle (Martin Hewitt) any more. He was once an art critic and now he’s a performance artist, which she finds pretty stupid. Once she leaves him, he just calls over Stacey to dominate him but she can’t love him. Irene loves him too, but he’s infatuated with Stacey, so…

He’s also videotaping his life and keeps talking directly to the camera.

So is sex just as cold and calculating as Kyle’s art? Was Dark sick and tired of not just sex — he’d come back to adult to make sequels to New Wave Hookers, Between the Cheeks and The Devil in Miss Jones 5: The Inferno before making videos for Sublime, Onyx and, in a fact that still blows my mind, Mandy Moore, Britney Spears and A*Teens — so maybe if he’s tired of sex, we should all watch and learn.

GREGORY DARK WEEK: Stranger by Night (1994)

Gregory Dark has his best cast in this — well, you know, unless you count New Wave Hookers — movie in which detectives Corcoran (Steven Bauer) and Larson (William Katt) hunt for a serial killer. But as the killer continues leaving bodies in his bloody path, Corcoran begins to feel unstoppable rage and has blackouts. Even worse, the evidence that he and his partner start to uncover points to the frightening idea that one of them could be the killer.

Besides Bauer and Katt, Michael Parks is their boss, and Jennifer Rubin (Bad Dreams!) plays the psychologist that Bauer sleeps with when she isn’t working on his mental state (anyone in the therapy  business in a Gregory Dark film has no idea how to do the patient and provider distance rule properly). And hey! Ashley Laurence, Kristy from the Hellraiser movies!

This one breaks the format we’ve expected from Dark as while there’s sleaze, there’s not much sex. There are, however, flashbacks to just how horrific Bauer’s childhood was. And I get the feelng that Katt is loving getting to play his character.

Twin Sitters (1994)

Man, I really will watch anything. Case in point, I have watched nearly every movie that The Barbarian Brothers David and Petter Paul made. The Barbarians? Loved it. D.C Cab? Own the blu ray. Double Trouble? It’s on the site later today.

Identical twins who were gigantic hunks of beef in the days when size meant everything, they somehow got to make a whole bunch of movies that I alone enjoy. I mean, if this comes out on blu ray, I better be doing the commentary along with the surviving Peter Paul. I have so many questions of him.

Peter and David play, well, Peter and David Falcone. They’re also identical twin brother waiters who want to open their own restaurant. They save the life of a man who is going into witness protection, asking him to keep his twin nephews Bradley and Steven (Christian and Joseph Cousins, who played Dominic in Kindergarten Cop) out of trouble. However, those kids are going to destroy our heroes.

Yet stop — this was directed and written by John Paragon, the man who was Jambi the Genie, Pterri the Pterodactyl, the sex shop worker in Eating Raoul, a Walt Disney Imagineer,   a partner of Elvira and The Breather on her KHJ-TV series, a Groundling and even the director of ten episodes of Silk Stalkings. So yeah, another obsession.

And yep. Paul Bartel shows up. Of course he does.

George Lazenby too.

I really think this movie was created for me and me alone. So thank you, forces of the universe. You have infinitely upset me as of late, but I will take this gift from you and look to better days.

Saurians (1994)

Directed, written, produced, starring and edited by Mark Polonia, this movie makes Carnosaur look like a 5D CGI spectacle by comparison, but come on. It was shot by a teenager in Pennsylvania and has the energy that that statement embodies.

I mean, what’s your tolerance for stop motion dinosaurs on green screen, Amiga graphics and amateur green screen endeavors? You’re either the kind of person that looks at this and thinks it’s complete junk or you get obsessed and can’t turn away. There’s really no in-between.

Explosions wake up two dinosaurs, who proceed to destroy most of Mark’s hometown, Wellsboro, PA. It looks like this movie is all him and not as much of his brother John, who does show up as an extra. And Mark cares about you, his audience, so much that he even has his future wife do a shower scene.

But yeah. Rubbery dinosaurs.

MILL CREEK STEELBOOK BLU RAY RELEASE: Street Fighter (1994)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally reviewed this as part of a Video Game Week back on January 30, 2018. But man, that Mill Creek steelbook is so pretty that we had to put it back on our TV. This set comes with new interviews with director Steven E. De Souza, actors Ming-Na Wen and Damian Chapa and producer Edward R. Pressman. Plus, there are features on Van Damme at Universal, the game versus the film, a talk with composer Graeme Revell, a making-of, outtakes, deleted scenes, archival audio commentary from de Souza, storyboards and video game sequences. 

It even comes with Bison Bucks!

You can get this awesome release at Deep Discount

Street Fighter features many of the characters from the game and some of them hit the mark. Many of them don’t. And for years, I wrote the film off. I wondered, why did they pick Raul Julia to play M. Bison? After finally watching it, I now know that no one else could have played him.

How much do you really love the game? Then you’ll probably hate how idiotic Ken and Ryu are. You’ll probably dislike that E. Honda isn’t Japanese. And you’ll have trouble with the fact that Dhalsim is a scientist and that Charlie and Blanka have been turned into the same character.

But if you can get away from that, you pretty much get a live action cartoon. There’s a great scene where E. Honda and Zangief (Andrew Bryniarski, Leatherface in the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) have a fight while Godzilla sound effects play. Kylie Minogue is great as Cammy, even if her costumes are a little more modest than the video game. Wes Studi makes a fine Sagat. And the fights are really fun.

Best of all, Julia really makes M. Bison sing. There’s a great scene of him trying to seduce Chun Li in his chambers and he has a portrait done of him by John Wayne Gacy. And he brings a Shakespearean gravitas to a role that a lesser actor would not even think about. trying. The fact that he was suffering from stomach cancer (he died two months before the movie was released) is amazing when you see how much he put into his performance.

Street Fighter was the first movie that Steven de Souza directed. Up to then, he’d been better known as a writer, working on films as diverse as 48 HoursThe Return of Captain InvincibleCommandoThe Running ManBad DreamsDie HardDie Hard 2 and Hudson Hawk. He was beholden to a really rough schedule while working on the film, as Capcom had a hard and fast date that he had to hit. That said — he succeeds in making a silly take on the franchise. There’s even a Goofy falling sound effect made by one of the enemy soldiers!

This last scene is amazing and worth the price of ordering this movie.

 

The Birds II: Land’s End (1994)

Look, I don’t write these articles to beat up on movies, but this is like shooting dead pigeons in a barrel.

Some facts:

Rather than playing Melanie from Hitchcock’s The Birds, Tippi Hedrin plays Helen, the owner of a local store that knows all about the birds and remembers the events of the original. Why is she a different character? Is she there under witness protection? Did Hedrin only do this movie to get a check for her animal charity? Was this a worse experience than Roar?

This is not the first — or the last — sequel that Rick Rosenthal would make, what with being part of the best Halloween sequel and the worst. He made sure his name was not on this movie, as Alan Smithee is credited.

Ken and Jim Wheat, who wrote this movie, made a bunch of other sequels, like Ewoks: The Battle for EndorThe Fly IIA Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream MasterIt Came from Outer Space II and The Stepford Husbands. They’re probably better known for The Silent Scream and Pitch Black.

Why would this movie be made? Was Showtime obsessed with sequels? Is it worth sticking around for the last ten minutes where seagulls go nuts and most of the cast gets killed? Would Hitchcock hate this movie? Did he once give Melanie Griffith a doll of her mother inside a coffin? Am I obsessed by movies that most people know better than to even try to watch?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and forever.

You can watch this on Tubi.

PS: Craig Edwards worked on this movie and shared this amazing article about his time on the set.

Scanner Cop (1994)

The fourth film in the Scanners series and the first film in the Scanner Cop series, this movie is all about rookie LAPD cop Sam Staziak (Daniel Quinn), a scanner who has been brought onto the force to use his telekinetic and telepathic abilities to stop crime.

When a series of murders target the police, Sam begins to lose it, with his powers going into overdrive and his mind potentially betraying him as he hunts the killer.

In all honestly, this movie is hundreds of times better than it has any right to be. You have to admire the sheer balls it takes to grab the Scanners idea, throw it into a straight police movie and just go with it. Even better, Richard Lynch, the bad guy of all bad guys, shows up and does his thing.

This was directed, produced and written by Pierre David and was the first film he directed. He executive produced Scanners, Videodrome and The Brood. He may have only directed one other movie, Serial Killer, but he has 216 production credits, mainly TV movies like She Is Not Your DaughterMy Daughter’s Psycho FriendMurdered at 17 and My Life as a Dead Girl.

I still can’t believe how much I loved this movie.