Brainscan (1994)

If you wanted to see an “ancient future” movie directed by a filmmaker who worked on West Side Story (as a script supervisor) and with Elvis Presley on Kid Galahad (as an second assistant director), then this is your movie.

That filmmaker eventually made a film that a Southern California video store clerk later adopted as the name for his home video reissues imprint: the filmmaker was Quentin Tarantino and the movie was ultimate Vietnam revenge flick, 1977’s Rolling Thunder.

Then that filmmaker made the only other movie that we care about starring Edward Furlong. Well, at least for us hard rockin’ video game lovin’ loners who only rented horror movies and devoured copies of Fangoria (the copy of Fangoria magazine where the faux “Brainscan” advertisement appears is Fangoria issue #95/August 1990).

And we remember that movie, not so much for the fact that John Flynn directed it and “John Connor” starred in it, but that noted session musician and soundtrack composer George S. Clinton scored the film and made it sound like a Halloween sequel. Then there’s the fact that alt-rock and grunge was all the rage at the time, and this time, instead of rockin’ on Guns and Roses, John Connor was into (the cool, but second and third string Seattle bands) Mudhoney and Tad, as well as Butthole Surfers and Primus — and a really cool tune “Shapes” from a 4th string Seattle band, Alcohol Funnycar, and Philadelphia’s they-sound-like-they’re-from-Seattle-but-they’re-not-Nirvana Dandelion with “Under My Skin.”

Oh, and some screenwriter from Mechanicsburg, Pennslyvania, out in little ol’ Cumberland County — who wowed us with the noir-slasher Se7en (1995) and gave us the Cage in 8mm (1999) — wrote it. (Check out our “Nic Cage Bitch” career retrospective.) And proving that everyone has to start somewhere in the business: Andrew Kevin Walker’s first job in the business was as a scenic painter on (the utter abysmal) Robot Holocaust (1986). If you know your comics, then you know Walker’s place in the Marvel and DC-verses with his shelved adaptations for Silver Surfer and X-Men, as well as Batman and Superman.

Boy, I can relate. Andrew Kevin Walker QWERTY’ing the midnight oil/image courtesy of The Fincher Analyst.

Okay, enough of the movie and music nostalgia. Now for the behind the scene turmoil.

In “John Flynn: Out for Action,” a 2005 interview by Harvey F. Chartrand for (the awesome) Shock Cinema, John Flynn offered his insights to the film:

“Frank Langella is a prince of a guy and a wonderful actor. He really nailed that character. Frank took what was a routine cop part and lent real depth to it. He played against the tough cop stereotype, played it very gently and softly, but there was a subtext of steel. His Detective Hayden character had a very human concern for the boy, but he was going to find the truth. If it meant the destruction of this boy, so be it.”

Okay, but what about Edward Furlong?

Eddie Furlong was a 15-year-old kid who couldn’t act. You had to ‘slap him awake’ every morning. I don’t want to get into knocking people, but I was not a big Eddie Furlong fan.”

And Andrew Kevin Walker’s script?

“The main interest for me was the Trickster character. The Trickster was the core of the movie and what attracted me to the script. We found this stage actor [T. Ryder Smith] to play the Trickster and he was extraordinary. . . . Walker had thoroughly researched that whole VR scene.”

And that sums it up: We’ve got a great, ominous-appropriate score by George S. Clinton (the whacked musical The Apple, Cheech and Chong’s Still Smokin’). A great soundtrack by then timely-hot grunge-and-not-grunge bands. A great, well-researched script by Andrew Kevin Walker (that gave him his start in the business) directed by John Flynn — in his first horror film — knocking it out of the park. And, as Flynn — and Shock Cinema’s editors pointed out — we have a great villain in The Trickster in T. Rider Smith as “a cadaverous Alice Cooper-like entity who materializes from a CD-ROM computer game.”

Regardless of the problems with Furlong on the set: I think he’s just fine, here (and really good in 1989’s American History X; if that movie was made today, yikes; people would go social media insane over it). But T. Ryder Smith? Just wow and a bag o’ chips. Not since Anders Hove as Radu Vladislas in Subspecies (1991). Sure, The Trickster isn’t a “vampire” in the traditional sense, but I can’t help think Walker was influenced by the Amicus and Hammer vampires of old, as our virtual reality “vamp” is draining the will — the soul — of the user. I see The Trickster as one of the best — right alongside Tom Cruise’s take of Lestat in Interview with the Vampire (1994) — in contemporary film vampires. Is there a little pinch o’ Pinhead from the Hellraiser (1987) franchise, here? Sure. And I always align The Trickster with Sammy Curr (a “backmasked” vampire, if you will) from the “No False Metal” classic Trick or Treat (1986) (now that’s a Groovy Doom Saturday Night Double Feature watch party: Brainscan and Trick or Treat). If Edward Furlong was an aspiring rocker or just a ne’er-do-well metalhead of the Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer variety. . . .

There’s so much that Andrew Kevin Walker gets right in Brainscan: in fact, everything that the ancient future-cum-erotic thriller Disclosure (Sam and I both take it to task this week; look for them) gets wrong, Walker gets right. Sure, CDs and CD-ROM drives are passé — and you’d be hard-pressed to find a laptop with a CD-drive today . . . well, hell . . . The Trickster spinnin’ those disks on his long finger nails. Just damn. Demi Moore’s evil bitch has nothing on The Trickster. Snake Plissken rippin’ out the analog tape of a K-Mart Kraco cassette of the 1997, John Carpenter-mission-critical variety just ain’t the same. Walker’s script is the prefect amalgamate statement on the Gen-X counterculture’s obsession with rock music and horror movies — an already troublesome mix in itself — colliding with computers and its growing development of violent video games.

Micheal Brower isn’t that far removed from Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer: both have absentee parents and spend their days in, well, the coolest bedrooms, ever: the kind that only exist in the movies. Only difference: Micheal is ye not plugged into devilish metal music, but the (then) burgeoning world of the Internet and computers — and enthralled by a new subset of that digital-verse: the digitally-created worlds of virtual reality programming.

A mother dead in a car crash. A kid with a permanently disabled leg. A father who escapes into his career. Bullies. One lone friend. And a hot, next door high school classmate that won’t give him the time of day. Childhood trauma. Abandonment. And just plain horny. Perfect pickings for The Trickster because, well, David Lightman is too smart for the VR scam and is starting WW III with a IMSAI 8080. And The Trickster’s already upgraded to a brainfucking Memorex Telex IBM/PC.

Only, Brainscan, the latest in video game technology, isn’t a video game: it’s a murder simulator, a program that encourages one’s most murderous impulses. And young Michael comes to discover: whoever dies in the game, dies in real life. And he’s killed best friend, but Michael’s mind is so scrambled, he doesn’t remember.

Courtesy of Mastodon PC.

The Trickster — what I love about Walker’s character development in ambiguity — is that we don’t know “what” the host of Brainscan is. As Proteus in Demon Seed (1977) before him, is The Trickster a sentient computer program turned flesh or, as with Max Renn in Videodrome (1983) before him, a manifestation of young Michael’s own needs, wants, vices, and desires? Or is The Trickster just a digitized Freddy Krueger who, instead of dreams, uses the information super highway-expressway into one’s skull?

It’s eerie how Andrew Kevin Walker foretells the forthcoming, 1999 Columbine tragedy — with that cauldron of violence spiced with the occult and satanic-panic — that associated the music of shocker-rocker Marilyn Manson and the industrial/goth bands KMFDM and Rammstein as underlying causes. Then there was the liberal reasoning that the home computer-based video games of Doom, Wolfstein 3D, and Duke Nukem were the causes. To that Columbine end: In addition to Walker effectively researching — and getting it right — the burgeoning virtual reality-verse, I wonder if the legal atrocities of the 1986 West Memphis 3 case, and the seminal British metal band Judas Priest “subliminal messaging” (via their 1978 album Stained Class) teens into murder and suicide, which also bit Ozzy Osbourne in the arse by way of the song “Suicide Solution” from his 1980 debut album, Blizzard of Oz, played into Walker’s screenwriting research.

Just a great film all around, Mr. Walker and Mr. Flynn. A true computer and alt-music time capsule. And a foretelling tale of our today’s online gaming and social media addictions. Beware of the true biblical beast. He’s waiting to plug into you.

Hats off for Sam the Bossman devising an “Ancient Future” theme week inspiring me to rewatch this debut work from Andrew Kevin Walker again, all these years later. And shame on me for not searching the B&S About Movies’ database to see that if we already reviewed this film — ugh, we did, courtesy of Sam back in June 2019, when Mill Creek appropriately double-packed Brainscan with another “ancient future” lost bit n’ bytes romp, Mindwarp (1992), from Fangoria Films/Magazine (!) starring Angus Scrimm and Bruce Campbell. (Ironically, The Trickster is a computerized version of The Tallman from Phantasm, right? Too bad T. Ryder Smith didn’t get a franchise out of this, as he is astounding in his role.)

There’s just too many movies to keep track of . . . and so many more to review. At least I caught myself before rehashing Mindwarp, for it ain’t no Brainscan, but it’s still pretty cool. You can watch Brainscan as a free-with-ads stream on the Crackle online service.

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.

Disclosure (1994) and the Exploration of the “Erotic Thrillers” of the ’90s

When the net meets sex . . . you’re screwed.
— the tagline that never was

While the “video nasty” was our analog-rental de rigueur in the ’80s, it was the titillation of the psuedo-Giallo* and faux noir plotting of the “erotic thriller” that was our fashionable, digital-rental in the ’90s — and their bastardized, low-budget “after dark” soft-core variants of ne’er-do-well successful surgeons, kinked detectives, and tool-literate, hunky-handyman drifters were our required Cinemax/Showtime cable-viewing. Call those ’90s eroticisms what you will: a sexed-up ’50s detective thriller, or an ersatz-porn or a non-psychosexual Giallo of the ’70s, but the genre captured the creative pens of Hollywood and the contractual clauses of A-List talent agents. The first leading man to answer the call to . . . ahem, for the sake of keeping this review clean, we’ll just say, “arms,” for modern Hollywood’s new take on the likes of Double Indemity (1944) was Michael Douglas.

Double Indemity (1944) vs. Basic Instinct (1992).

Can you hear Micheal Douglas salivating Fred MacMurray’s line, “That’s a honey of an anklet you got there, Ms. Dietrichson,” as a widowed Barbara Stanwyck gives him a hint a vagina? Or Fred MacMurray substituting the p-word in lieu of “anklet,” as Babs remembered the anklet, but forgot the undergarments? Ain’t no men in the ’90s gazing at any anklets, baby: the days of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo and Rob and Laura Petrie bunking down in nightstand-separate twins beds are long since over: bring on the WAP. For these are the days that it’s societal acceptable for Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion performing a pseudo-lesbian stripper show on national network TV to mass applause and cheers and for musical tributes to the vagina to rise up the charts to Grammy recognition and acclaim.

During that short-lived sex-noir genre of the early ’90s — that crossed Antonioni’s Blow Up (1966) with Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, while adding a soupçon of the Golden Age of Porn’s Deep Throat (1972) and a smidgen of Argento (the faux-noir detective had to start his sex-spiral, somewhere) — the son of Kirk Douglas (Saturn 3) was the crowned king of the bare-bottom courtesy of the one-two box-office hip-thrust of (the lighter fare) Fatal Attraction (1987) (and the amped-up) Basic Instinct (1992). But while Adrian Lyne and James Dearden’s sex frolic was a hit, Glenn Close’s (Ol’ pop, with his Austin Powers-imitation anytime it cable replayed: “It’s a man, baby!” and “What man in is his right mind would cheat on Anne Archer with Glenn Close!”) Alexandra “Alex” Forrest was no match for Sharon’s Stone’s Catherine Tramell — courtesy of that notorious Eszterhas-cum-Verhoeven scene in the police interrogation room. And ol’ Cat was no rabbit-boiling wrist-silting shirking violet: Cat was a full-on Giallo bi-ice picker possessed with Lucio Fulci’s and Umberto Lenzi’s eyeball trauma fetishism.

Ladies and gentleman: we have our blue-print for the “erotic thriller” of the ’90s.

Art department fail: they should have ran an image of a binary bits and bytes curtain in those dead white spaces.

And the pants fell and the legs opened with one Eszterhas-clone after another: Sea of Love (1989) (Okay, that’s more of the Fatal Attraction-variety, but Pacino!), A Kiss Before Dying (1991) (Argh! Don’t sex-remake noir classics!), Poison Ivy (1992) (Eh, if you’re into Drew.), Single White Female (1992) (Standards-and-practices lesbian lore), Color of Night (1992) (Bruce Willis begins his career spiral.), Consenting Adults (1992) (Alan J. Pakula? Dude, you directed Klute and The Parallax View, not to mention scoring Oscar gold nods three times? Why did you do it?), Sliver (1993) (Oh, Sharon, it does not strike twice; the worst of the bunch.), Body of Evidence (1993) (Oh, Madonna! Why, Willem Dafoe. why?), Indecent Proposal (1993) (Robert Redford? Don’t worry, Demi’s returning. . . .), The Last Seduction (1994) (The most underrated of them all!), Jade (1995) (David Caruso quit NYPD Blue, for this?), Showgirls (1995) (Eszterhas and Verhoeven return for a match-made-in-box office-hell.), Wild Things (1998) (Denise Richards ain’t no Sharon Stone.), and The Bondage Master (1996) (the no-one-knows Japanese V-Cinema classic that gets it oh-so-right and is the requisite B&S About Movies “erotic thriller,” if we must pick one.).

It’s curtains for you, Mr. Sanders!

But for this latest installment of one of B&S About Movies’ patented theme weeks — this week, it’s “ancient future” — we picked the third film of Micheal Douglas’s sexual triumvirate — and, if you’re keeping track: tres for Demi with Indecent Proposal and ShowgirlsDisclosure.

Oh, Hollywood, your fascination with the erotic was only matched by your kid-in-the-Radio Shack tomfoolery when you told us the Internet — with a single keystroke — could do anything. You warned of a world were hacks were as easy as a car service or food delivery app-touch away. It would be a world where the introverted and the shut-in; the malcontent bookworm and the bullied brainiac, would lord over the extroverts, telecommuting over phone lines and cyberpunking us as they open their hearts and souls on cyberchats to their digital lovers and digitally-ordered pizzas while us mere analog fools had physical sex and called-in our pepperoni pies.

For it was a time when the thumb drive was not a yet a twinkle in your Commodore 64-eye; it was an epoch-prediction that computer discs would become the linchpin of our existence; when CD-ROMs were lucrative; a world were malevolent hackers were out to erase identities and steal lives, manufacture rap sheets, alter job records, or murder you by infiltrating airline software and crashing your plane. Those who understood Basic HTML and navigated mainframes would master your domain!

Welcome to the world of Disclosure: a world where the clumsy erotic collides with the cyber stupid.

Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas) pines for a lucrative career promotion as the President of the CD-ROM division (which we now know: he’d be out of job, since you’d be hard-pressed these days to find a laptop with a drive), in lieu of his less-prestigious production line manager gig at DigiCom. Alas, when his company’s merger is about complete, everyone is shocked to learn that ready-to-retire founder Bob Garvin (Donald Sutherland) promoted-transferred the Malaysian-based Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore) — Sanders’s old girlfriend — to the Seattle main office for the job. And, in a role reversal that would never make it through the studio development stages in our post-#MeToo environs: she sexually forces herself on him. And when Sanders rebuffs the advance, her hell-hath-a-woman scorned response for career damage control is to accuse him of sexual harassment. And with a scandal of that magnitude jeopardizing the merger, “to hell with friendship” says Bob Garvin: he sides with Meredith because, it’s always money over friendship. Always. The fact that she’s incompetent and used cheap Malaysian slave labor to jam chips-by-hand instead of by-robot-arm into motherboards, which slowed down the production line stats for Tom and caused him to be passed over, well . . . Meredith is hot and Sutherland, we think, got a “boink” in the deal.

Tom Sanders is screwed . . . or is he?

Thanks to ’90s computer technology, he’s not.

He has DigiCom’s new Virtual Reality Database at his disposal: DigiCom is about to give us a world where we need keyboards no more; monitors are passe; touch screen and wireless technology never was. For now, we simply slip on a wired visor and pair of gloves to enter a digital cathedral of vaulted ceilings and virtual-lit transepts; a digital diocese with narthex after narthex of chambered file rooms rife with VR-cabinets that open with the glance of an eye and, if you’re lost amid the bites and bytes, you can call on an “Angel” to help you glide through the binary codes to save your ass and burn your foes.

Welcome to computer technology and corporate espionage circa 1994: a digital realm where tech giant DigiCom got so much so wrong and so much of what they developed is out out-of-date. There are the clunky mobile phones. The awkward navigation of an in-house e-mail application bogged down with jumbo-sized icons, a spinning “E” screen saver, and giant, unfolding envelopes every time you open an email. The inability — of a cutting-edge tech company that developed a VR-cathedral file cabinet — to trace anonymous emails — mails with espionage Intel that can jeopardize the company’s merger. Oh, DigiCom. How can a company so “cutting edge” develop VR-cathedrals, yet not improve on the design of giant CRT monitors? All this from a tech giant with engineers that decided ditching a WYSIWYG click-and-drag mouse-interface for a visor and gloves to retrieve files made perfect sense. No thanks, DigiCom. It’s Doug Engelbart’s mouse over Tom Sanders’s cathedrals for the win: I’ll just stick to the ol’ Windows Explorer directory tree.

Imagine if Sandra Bullock had to go through all of this VR-catherdal hokum to order a pizza when that HMTL-world she mastered became ancient history future.

Wow, now I’m hungry! Time for me to slip on my brain-computer interface (from Douglas Trumbull’s Brainstorm**) and jam-a-chip into the back of my head (à la Circuitry Man**). I need to order food for my chess date with Hal. Oh, that reminds me: I better log onto the IBM terminal and invite Colossus over (from Colossus: The Forbin Project). Yeah, ol’ Cal already knows, it’s just a social (media) formality.

* We LOVE our Giallo at B&S About Movies, which we blew out in grand style with our “Exploring: Giallo” examination, rife with our reviews to over 70 films. We also discuss ol’ Hal and Colossus, and their “ancient future” brethren, with our “Drive-In Friday: Computers Take Over the World” featurette.

** We’re unpacking Brainstorm and Circuity Man this week.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publish music reviews and short stories on Medium.

Angel 4: Undercover (1994)

Molly “Angel” Stewart is still a photographer, but now she does it for the police. And she’s portrayed by the fourth actress in as many movies to play her, Darlene Vogel.

One of her old street girlfriends is in town, touring with a band and of course, ends up dead before we’re all that long into this movie. After photographing the body — it’s her job — Molly goes back to being Angel and goes undercover as a groupie.

A sequel in name only, this was directed by Richard Schenkman. Strangely enough, the Miramax site lists George Axsmith as the director, another name* that Schenkman would use.

Stoney Jackson, who was Phones in Roller Boogie, is in this, as are Samantha Phillips (Phantasm II) and Roddy McDowall, who deserves so much better more than anyone has ever deserved so much better.

That said, this ends up being a movie about a troubled musician more than Angel, but such is life when you’re watching the fourth movie in a sequel series that is basically unconnected. Maybe a producer somewhere wants to know about my idea, Angel vs. Vice Academy.

*On his website, the director says, “For decades I said that The Pompatus of Love was my first movie, but close friends have long known that two years before Pompatus, I directed Angel IV: Undercover aka Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Why the obfuscation? Simply, I didn’t want my official “first film” to be a dreadful, low-budget B-movie I didn’t write, although I was very grateful for the chance to learn-by-doing and make my mistakes on a project less close to my heart. But in all fairness, even this was supposed to be a better movie – a “rock n’ roll murder mystery” – and it was, until the producer demanded that we shoot an “alternate version” of several scenes, enabling him to position the film as an Angel sequel in “a couple of Eastern European markets.” Naturally, only the Angel version ever saw the light of day. Still… I got to work with a good number of dear friends, plus the iconic Hollywood legend Roddy McDowall, as well as the brilliant, much-missed Kevin Gilbert, who did the songs and score.”

Leprechaun 2 (1994)

The subtitle of this movie, One Wedding and Lots of Funerals, is better than anything in it. That said, the Leprechaun movies are not known for being subtle. Or even cannon. I mean, they never even mention if this is the same little guy from the first one.

This time, the Leprechaun has made his journey to Los Angeles inside a magic tree that once belonged to Harry Houdini, which is pretty hilarious and starts getting any gold he can, starting with teeth.

The goal is for the antagonist to get married and coincidence and movie luck demands that the woman of his destiny just so happens to be the girlfriend of our hero. I thought that the dark tours in this were ripped off from Dearly Departed Tours, but it turns out that the reverse is true.

Clint Howard also elevates this for the brief time he’s in it. Look any movie where a man wishes for a pot of gold and it gets ripped out of his stomach, I’m probably going to enjoy on some level. I’m pretty easy.

Ed Wood: Look Back in Angora (1994)

There comes a time in the genre film fan’s life when you suddenly make a critical reappraisal of the films of Ed Wood. As for me, I came to his films from It Came From Hollywood and the Medved brothers’ books, where he was made fun of for being the worst filmmaker ever and Plan 9 From Outer Space was laughed at as the worst movie of all time.

Or maybe — just maybe — he was an auteur who never had the benefits most auteurs do, like budgets, decent acting, good sets and so much more.

Writer and director Ted Newsom — who made this and other documentaries like 100 Years of Horror — credited Lucille Ball, Sidney Salkow (director of Last Man on Earth) and Ben Brady (producer of The Outer Limits) as the people who he considered teachers. He moved from newspaper and magazine writing to books and screenplays with his partner John Brancato. In fact, working with Brancato, the team worked with Stan Lee to write early scripts for Sgt. Fury, Spider-Man and The Sub-Mariner films.

This Rhino Video* release breaks down why Wood was so essential and has interviews with Delores Fuller, Conrad Brooks and Kathy Wood, amongst others. It also has a lot of abandoned projects, like the pilot for a TV western and Fred Olen Ray’s Beach Blanket Bloodbath, a movie that a dissolute Wood was hired to write months before he died.

Jim Morton wrote in RE/Search: Incredibly Strange Films — which was the bible for my film mania at one point and started my question to learn more about so many filmmakers — “Eccentric and individualistic, Edward D. Wood Jr. was a man born to film. Lesser men, if forced to make movies under the conditions Wood faced, would have thrown up their hands in defeat.” That quote means more to me than a lot of this movie, whose Gary Owens-delivered patter seems to make light of the fact that Wood suffered failure after failure, finally kicked out of his home and dying alone, screaming for his wife to get him a drink.

Today, I see Ed Wood as a dreamer, a man who had visions in his head that he was unable to translate to the screen. That said, what he was able to get up there, we’re still talking about years after incredibly professional and well-made movies have been forgotten. And for that, he should be celebrated. After all, Glen or Glenda is a shocking film even today, a transgressive film even without knowing that Wood himself was obsessed with cross-dressing, finding comfort in the soft comfort of angora.

*Rhino was a big deal in my teen years, putting out the Dr. Demento records and early video releases like, well, this documentary. Richard Foos, one of their execs, left the label once Warner Media bought them and he was one of the people behind Shout! Factory, which pretty much does what Rhino once did so well.

You can watch this on YouTube.

B-MOVIE BLAST: Almost Hollywood (1994)

After this movie, Crown International Pictures took nine years off. I will tell you that that is not because this is a good movie and they felt they’d done all they could do. Quite the opposite.

However, in my endless quest to watch every single film they ever released, as well as my slavish addiction to Mill Creek box sets, I find myself here, struggle watching this supposed satire on Hollywood.

This is all about a producer of exploitation and sex videos who uddenly is accused of killing one of his star’s boyfriends and his mistress. It’s a wacky sendup of what I can only assume it was like make movies in 1994.

I mean, this is a movie that pokes fun at the erotic thriller genre, with the character Abdu clearly an analogue of Ashok Amritraj, Menaham Golan and Yorum Globus and Greg Rhodes from Ghosthouse and Deadly Manor as the filmmaker who is pretty much making post-adult Gregory Dark movies, except this makes me wistful for Gregory Dark movies.

In a meta move, India Allen, who was Playboy Playmate of the Year in 1988, as well as in movies like Silk Degrees and Wild Cactus, plays herself.

Michael Weaver, who wrote and directed this, also shot Dark Eyes and The Sender as well as directing two segments in the movie Night Terror before heading off to do TV work, working as the DP on Pushing Daisies and directing episodes of Californication and Good Girls.

I’ll do anything for Crown International and Mill Creek, I guess. Even this.

Dinosaur Island (1994)

Dinosaur Island has a great poster and let’s leave it at that.

Actually, I’m not going to get away with that, so let’s talk about this movie.

It seems like I set out to do a week about societies where women rule and I end up watching Jim Wynorski movies. Well, at least he has Fred Olen Ray along for this one, all about five pilots crashing in the jungle and coming up against not only dinosaurs, but a tribe of Amazonian women who include Michelle Bauer (Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-RamaNightmare Sisters), Becky LeBeau (Joysticks), Deborah Dutch (Vice Academy 6) and Toni Naples (Deathstalker II).

Instead of the jungle, this tribe really is running part of David Carradine’s ranch and are battling footage taken from Carnosaur, here called the Great One.

Who can make sense of all of this? Captain Jason Briggs. And who is he? Russ Hagen from The Sidehackers. Oh shit, everyone is fucked.

Who can be blamed? Roger Corman, who wanted to cash in on Jurassic Park and hired Ray and Wynorski, who claimed in the book Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses – Roger Corman: King of the B Movie that this is more a cavegirl movie than a dinosaur flick.

I guess the nicest thing that I can say is that the soldiers seem to treat the women with respect, which they should, because they are the rules of Dinosaur Island, which is just down the beach from Dinosaur Valley.

Queen of Lost Island (1994)

I’ve watched many a bad movie for this site, but this has to be the new basement when it comes to films, a Shot On Video piece of flaccid garbage that wants so very badly to be pornography but stops short, providing all of the downsides of 1990’s VCA crap you had to rent from the back of the video store with none of the upside, like actual pornography or the lunacy of the Dark Brothers or Rinse Dream.

I really wanted it to fit into this week’s theme of matriarchal societies, as it seemed like from the description that Strain’s character was She. But no. No, not at all.

This all became more crustal clear when I saw who made it: Donald G. Jackson, the director of more than three Roller Blade themed movies who has one lone success, Hell Comes to Frogtown.

A whole bunch of women has been invited to an island that takes over their minds — or so they say — while Julie Strain waits for them, naked and swinging around a sword. Do you know how boring a movie has to be to not be good while featuring Julie Strain topless? This movie will give you the answer.

Literally, during this movie, I yelled out loud, “Robert Z’Dar, don’t you have something better to do?”

Also known as The Devil’s Pet and Elixir — the name it finally came out in 2004 on home video under — this movie also has Tina-Desiree Berg (Legend of the Roller Blade Seven), Lori Jo Hendrix (Bikini Summer) and Jeff Hutchinson (who shows up in many of Jackson’s films, like Lingerie Kickboxer and Roller Blade).

Fans of bad movies — this is quite literally as bad as it gets.

Wyatt Earp (1994)

In 1998: It was the battle of the Earth-destroyed-by-asteroid epics Deep Impact vs. Armageddon.

In 2013: It was the battle of the terrorist-attack-on-the-White House epics Olympus Has Fallen vs. White House Down.

And back in the early ’90s: It was the battle of the Gunfight at the O.K Corral flicks that were 1993’s Tombstone and 1994’s Wyatt Earp.

Welcome to the O.K Octagon for the Wyatt Earp showdown that Kevin Costner built.

In “The Western Godfather,” an October 2006 article published in True West Magazine, it’s learned that Costner was originally involved in Hollywood/Buena Vista Pictures’ (part of Walt Disney Studios) production of Tombstone — starring as Wyatt Earp. As is the case with the clout of A-List stars, they’re given control over their scripts. Costner was, of course, unhappy with screenwriter Kevin Jarre’s (an expert history scribe courtesy of his 1989 Civil War epic, Glory — but you know Jarre’s work in Rambo: First Blood Part II) version that focused more on all of those involved in the epic Wild West gunfight, than Wyatt Earp.

So Costner turned in his spurs to Uncle Walt and signed on the dotted line with Bugs to make his own version Wyatt Earp’s tale for Warner Bros. with Lawrence Kasdan (of Star Wars* fame) who helmed Costner’s previous western, 1985’s Silverado. And Costner used his considerable clout to convince most of the major studios to refuse to distribute Tombstone.

So, what was the end result?

Tombstone — released first, in December 1993 — was a box office success, becoming the 16th high-grossing western released since 1979.

Wyatt Earp — released in June 1994 — was a critical and box office bomb.

So, how bad was it?

Wyatt Earp earned five Razzie nods for Worst Picture, Director, and Screen Couple (Earp and his three wives), while walking away with the awards for the Remake or Sequel and Actor categories. In addition, Costner’s version ended up on several major, national publications’ “Year End Worst Of” lists, including Rolling Stone, which ranked it the 2nd worse film of the year.

And good ‘ol Pops, a western freak who never appreciated my love for all things Spaghetti Western — or Klaus Kinski** — beyond Clint Eastwood’s forays, hated Wyatt Earp. But he loved Tombstone. So there you go. (And he, like I, loved Costner’s Waterworld and The Postman, and Costner’s early film Fandango is still one of my VHS-rental favorites.)

And why are we reviewing the Costner one and not the Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer-starring one? Have you not been paying attention at all this week, ye B&S About Movies reader?

This one stars the perfect-for-the-western-genre-and-we-wished-he-did-more-of-them John Doe of X as Tommy “Behind-the-Deuce” O’ Rourke — a character based on the real life professional gambler and gunslinger Michael “Mike” O’Rourke, aka “Johnny O’Rourke,” aka “Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce.”

Check out John’s 2016 release on You Tube.

* Be sure check out our month-long blowout of Star Wars-influenced film reviews with the our “Exploring: After Star Wars” featurette.

** My love for Klaus Kinski Westerns is unbound, as proven with our “Drive-In Friday: Kinski Spaghetti Westerns Nite” featurette.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publish music reviews and short stories on Medium.

Orochi the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994)

Toho knows about multiple headed dragons. But here, they are in service to a fairy tale film that deals with the birth of Shinto.

Honestly, this movie blew my mind and I’m not certain I’ll ever be able to get it fixed again.

After the birth of twin princes, the emperor feels hatred for one of them, Ousu. He orders a shaman to kill his son, but Amano Shiratori, the White Bird of the Heavens, appears and the shaman decides to raise him.

Yet when he finally grows up and his father pardons him, within days Ousu’s mother has died mysteriously and his brother attacks him, dying in the process. The emperor sends his son away again, into the Kumaso area to battle the barbarians that live there.

Along with a girl named Oto and his friends Genbu and Seriyu, the prince changes his name to Yamato Takeru and begins to complete a series of heroic feats. However, he must now find the Sword of Dark Clouds before the evil moon god Tsukuyomi who has somehow learned how to transform himself into the eight-headed dragon named Orochi. And oh yeah, Tsukinowa — the evil priest who caused all this — is the one who killed our hero’s mother and brother. And get this, Oto is really the sun goddess Amaterasu. And then a sword gets pulled from a stone. And…

Seriously, this movie is absolutely packed with astounding moment after astounding moment, like heroes dying and being reborn, Amano Shiratori becoming a mecha phoenix and the titular eight-headed dragon. You should pause and realize that this effect is a physical effect and not CGI. It’s one of the most incredible looking monsters that I’ve ever seen, blowing away nearly any kaiju movie.

A remake of 1959’s The Three Treasures, this was intended to be a trilogy, but didn’t do well in theaters. It did lead to a Yamato Takeru anime. It was directed by Takao Okawara, who also made Godzilla vs. Destoroyah and Godzilla 2000. He also was an assistant director on one of Toho’s weirdest movies, Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen. Wataru Mimura, who wrote the script, also worked on several of Toho’s 2000’s kaiju movies.

This is the closest a movie has come to a Harryhausen effort in decades. I say that with the highest praise, as this is a visually stunning feast that kids of all ages will love.