Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994)

I spent lots of money to get this on DVD. Obviously, my love for the Police Academy movies — not to mention Christopher Lee and owning absolute junk on physical media — is unmatched.

You know what’s awesome about the world that we live in? Of all the movies to be amongst the first Western films to be shot in the Soviet Union, one of the Police Academy films would be one of them, lensing right in the midst of Red Square.

Commandant Eric Lassard (George Gaynes), Sergeant Larvell Jones (Michael Winslow), Sergeant Eugene Tackleberry (David Graf) and Captain Debbie Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook) are joined by Cadet Kyle  Connors (Charlie Schlatter) and the despised Capt. Thaddeus Harris (G. W. Bailey).

Wait? Where’s Captain Moses Hightower? Well, Bubba Smith was asked to return, but when he was told that Sergeant Laverne Hooks (Marion Ramsey) wouldn’t be involved, he quit. This is exactly like the scene in the first Police Academy, which kind of makes me emotional.

Russian gangster Konstantine Konali (Ron Perlman!) is using Tetris to launder money. Russian Commandant Alexandrei Nikolaivich Rakov (Christopher Lee!) beings in help from the man he met at a police convention, Commandant Lassard.

Hijinks, as they say, ensue.

Is that Claire Forlani? Is that original Mousketeer Lonnie Burr as a gay Russian? Would you believe that the October 4, 1993 assault on the Russian parliament building almost took out the entire production team?

For his part, Perlman considers his work in this movie “a public service”, as he felt that he shut down the series, exclaiming, “I’m not going to apologize. I did that piece of shit.”

He forgets — as does most of the rest of the non-bonkers world, that there was a 1997 syndicated Police Academy series that followed a new crew of recruits across 26 episodes. Only Winslow would return as Jones, but there were guest-starring roles for Easterbrook with Callahan becoming a district attorney, Art Metrano as Mauser, Gaynes as Lassard, Graf as Tackleberry, who is now a Captain, Colleen Camp appearing in archival footage and Tim Kazurinsky as Sweetchuck. Bubba Smith would finally come back as well, with Hightower being promoted to Captain in episode 19.

There was also a 65-episode cartoon series that spawned a comic book and Kenner action figure line, which is amazing when you consider that the original Police Academy movies earned their R rating.

While the TV series is unavailable on DVD or even streaming, the cartoon certainly is. It was animated by Toei. Yes, the same studio that made Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon.

The Crow (1994)

James O’Barr created The Crow as a way to deal with the death of his fiancee at the hands of a drunk driver. Today, we may know it more for the death of its lead actor Brandon Lee. Take it from someone who was 22 when the original film came out and had already been a fan of the comic — it was the perfect movie for its time, a capsule ready made to be looked back on as I am now old and have so many memories around this time.

Eric Draven (Lee) has been killed after trying to save the life of his fiancee Shelley. One year later, a crow brings him back to life as he unleashes terror on the gang of Top Dollar (Michael Wincott, Strange Days).

It’s an incredibly simple tale of revenge, but the gothic look and soundtrack that reflects the time of its creation drive this movie beyond its simple origins. I remember being beyond excited when My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult was actually in the film, playing at Top Dollar’s club before his gang heads out to set Detroit ablaze on Devil’s Night.

Of course, there has long been discussion of the film being cursed. In addition to the accident where Michael Massee shot a live round — unbeknownst to the actor — a carpenter suffered serious burns, another worker was stabbed in the hand by a screwdriver, an equipment truck blew up, a stuntman broke his ribs, a rigger was electrocuted, a set sculptor flipped out and drove his car through the prop room and finally, a hurricane destroyed much of the set.

Another reason for so much of this — beyond fate — was that there was plenty of cost and corner cutting, with a crew member remarking that they were “trying to make a $30 million movie for $18 million.” As the movie was being shot in North Carolina, which is a right-to-work state, the unionized conditions of Hollywood did not exist. They switched schedules from night to day without the industry standard 24-hour break.  Rumors of rampant cocaine use on set also exist.

Due to Lee dying, many of the scenes had to be reshot with a double and CGI. All of the scenes with Michael Berryman’s Skull Cowboy character had to be cut, too.

Despite the tragic nature of its creation, The Crow remains a movie that reminds me of a different time in my life. Its influence on culture remains.

True Lies (1994)

Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is living two lives. To his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) and his daughter (Eliza Dushku), he’s a boring computer salesman. But that’s all a cover for his real job, as an agent of the elite Omega Sector. He’s Bond but perhaps even better, as the opening of the film shows him easily seduce Juno Skinner (Tia Carrere), steal important files and escape a society party by killing everyone in his way.

But what happens when his wife meets someone who could be a spy (Bill Paxton) and starts having an affair?

This is a movie that I’d not watched for some reason and I loved it. Particularly, I enjoyed Charlton Heston as Director Spencer Trilby and Tom Arnold as Tasker’s handler Albert Gibson. The spy action movies quickly, the action is big and bold, yet the love between Curtis and Arnold feels real.

Of course, this movie could never be made today, the way that it goes after Arabic people as terrorists. 1994 feels centuries ago in so many ways.

After September 11, 2001, Cameron decided to not do a sequel. He would say, “Terrorism is no longer something to take as lightly as we did in the first one. I just can’t see it happening given the current world climate.” Curtis would also say, “Terrorists aren’t funny anymore. They never were, but, it was distant enough from our psyche that we could make it funny. It’ll never be funny again. I just think that that is over, that kind of humor is over.”

That said, there remains a rumor that McG will be creating a series adaption for Disney+. For what it’s worth, this movie was based on the French film La Totale!, which didn’t get a sequel either.

From Beijing With Love (1994)

About the Author: Paul Andolina was looking for a Bond movie for this month and found a great example of a foreign take on the spy film. You can check out his blogs Wrestling with Film and Is the Dad Alive? for more.

I’m probably not the most qualified person to write about Bond parodies as I’ve seen so few actual James Bond movies, however, I am a huge fan of Stephen Chow’s particular brand of humor. I can’t understand Cantonese so a lot of his puns and jokes go over my head but I love the physical comedy in his films which is why I sought out From Beijing with Love.

A man in an iron suit with a golden gun has stolen China’s prized dinosaur skull and Ling Ling Chat (Stephen Chow) is sent to Hong Kong to retrieve it from the foreigners. He comes across the woman he believes to be his contact in Hong Kong, Lee Heung Kam but Golden Gun has instructed her to kill him. The commander who sent Ling Ling Chat on his mission is none other than Golden Gun himself!

This movie is as funny as Stephen Chow’s other films. Ling Ling Chat, a pork vendor with amazing dagger skills but who is not smart enough to be a spy is played by Chow himself. I love his characters who are usually dumb as hell but usually have hearts of gold. I am fascinated by the foolish antics of these types of characters in his films, which are usually full of nonsense. These types of films are known as mo lei tau. Stephen Chow is a phenom in Hong Kong and now Mainland China. 

I can’t speak on much of the parody aspects of the film because I am not super well versed in Bond films. Some of the references I did pick up though was there was a character modeled after Jaws from Moonraker (Moonraker is one of the few Bond films I have actually watched), the golden gun, and the soundtrack which parodies so many of the bond type introductions I have caught here and there on television. 

If you’re not familiar at all with Stephen Chow’s output but are a huge fan of Bond films, their ripoffs and parodies you will find a lot to love with this film. I hope it leads to you seeking out some of his other films as well, even the stuff he just acts in but doesn’t direct can be hilarious and heartfelt. This movie has plenty of explosions and blood in it as well for those who enjoy carnage in their spy films. If you are a fan of Chow and mo lei tau and have not seen this film, I encourage you to seek it out. It’s especially funny how it is critical of communist China and its corruptness when 3 short years later Hong Kong was ceded back to China after British rule would end there. It’s quite amazing that this film didn’t get Chow blacklisted after the transfer of sovereignty either. 

Dead Air (1994)

When you need a suspenseful slasher flick, a neo-giallo or neo-noir thriller competently done on a tight budget, director Fred Walton (April Fool’s Day, The Rosary Murders) is the man to call. His 1979 debut film, the babysitter stalker flick When a Stranger Calls, budgeted at $1.7 million was brought in under budget at $1.5 million in an 18-day shoot. The film subsequently grossed over $21 million and became one of Columbia Studios’ top grossing films for the year.

For reasons unknown, even after the success of those three theatrical films, Walton retreated into low-budget TV work, directing a host of entertaining cable psycho-thrillers: a remake of 1965’s I Saw What You Did (1988), Trapped (1989), Murder in Paradise (1990), The Price She Paid (1992), Homewrecker (1992), the TV sequel to his debut, When a Stranger Calls Back (1993), The Courtyard (1995), and his final film, The Stepford Husbands (1996).

As for the influence of and the respect afforded to When a Stranger Calls: Director Wes Craven paid homage to Walton’s debut by duplicating the film’s 20 minute opening sequence—deemed as one of the scariest openings sequences in a horror film—in the first 10 minutes of his 1996 horror hit, Scream. (If you’ve never seen When a Stranger Calls, it’s highly recommended you do. It’s on You Tube.)

So, with that back story on Walton’s cinema forte—along with this film’s title, its tagline and artwork of the one-sheet—you’ve probably guessed the plot of this film is somewhat similar to the previously reviewed Power 98—with a lone DJ noir-spiraling into a web of murder and deceit driven by a mysterious caller.

And if you’re keeping track of your radio psychos, you know the concept of a killer having a relationship with a radio host dates to Clint Eastwood’s 1971 directorial debut, Play Misty for Me. And you’ll recall the post-Halloween slasher ‘80s brought us the first of several psycho films concerning a serial killer harassing a radio host, which began with the U.K’s Section 3 video nasty, Don’t Answer the Phone (1980). Others in the cycle include Open House (1987) and Outside Ozona (1998), along with the cable films The Night Caller (1998) starring Tracy Nelson, Requiem for Murder (1999) starring Molly Ringwald, and A Lover’s Revenge (2005) starring Baywatch’s Alexandra Paul.

However, don’t let that familiarity deter you from watching Walton’s take on the radio psycho genre.

Three things make Dead Air work—where other low budget, set-in-radio station flicks fail. First, is the well-researched and intelligent script by David Amann (TV’s The X Files, Crossing Jordan, Without a Trace, and Castle) that not only knows its noir cues, but allows the radio station employees to sound like real radio station employees. Second, it was shot inside a real radio station—KKHR outside of Bakersfield, Ca. (the film was also shot in Agua Dulce, Ca. also outside of L.A.) Third, Gregory Hines (Cotton Club, Wolfen) did his research; he handles the equipment, along with the grease pencils and razor blades as he splices audio tape, with the skills of a radio pro.

Mark Jannek (Gregory Hines) is an L.A. DJ who specializes in incorporating his love of film noir into his music programs by re-creating old time, nourish radio dramas (remember: Eastwood’s Dave Garver worked his knowledge of poetry into his shows). After the murder of his girlfriend, Kathie, by an “obsessive fan,” Jannek restarts his life under the on-air name of Jim Sheppard at a small station in a dusty oil field town, far from the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.

As is the case with most DJs suffering from ego issues: “Jim” is back to his old tricks and ends up at a bar after his shift . . . and meets a girl, Judy, for a one-night stand (dude, did you learn nothing from Nick West in Night Rhythms?). The next night Mark’s on the air, the ever-present #1 fan who’s been obsessively calling the show tells him she has Judy—and murders Judy while he’s on the air. Of course, the cops don’t believe him—and there’s no record of the call. Utilizing his knowledge of the noir genre, Mark starts his own gumshoein’ investigation and tracks down Judy—and finds her body. Then the cat and mouse games ensue with the mystery fan making more untraceable phone calls and leaving messages on self-erasing cassette tapes, with Mark twisting in a web that takes him from victim, to witness, to suspect—not only in Judy’s murder, but in Susan’s, his producer at the station, and, the police believe, Kathie’s murder back in Los Angeles.

Is the person who killed Judy and Susan the same person who killed Mark’s girlfriend in Los Angeles? Is it the jealous DJ who got bumped from his shift to make way for Mark? Is it the psychology student (Debrah Farentino, TV’s NYPD Blue, Earth 2), who’s writing a thesis paper on broadcasting? Is it Kathie’s sister, Lara, who discovers she’s also becoming tangled in a web by her sister’s killer? Is it Morton, the station’s dweeby chief engineer?

The ending of Dead Air is a genuine, twisty shocker. Granted, it’s not a “shocker” of the Fatal Attraction or Basic Instinct nourish level, this is a direct-to-cable movie after all, but a shocker none-the less and certainly above the “shock ending” of other radio-noirs in its wake.

Look for an early role from John Hawkes as Morton, who got his start in the sci-fi cheapy Future-Kill (1985) and made it all the way to the Golden Globes and the Oscars with nominated roles in Winter’s Bone (2010) and The Sessions (2012). Horror hounds will immediately recognize Beau Starr in his role as Lieutenant Marvin Gallis from his roles in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, as well as his much seen roles (thanks their incessant cable replays) in Goodfellas as Henry Hill’s father (1990), and Speed (1994).

VHS rip of the full film on You Tube. You can also watch a preview trailer courtesy of Video Detective.

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. He also writes for B&S Movies.

Radioland Murders (1994)

How much does a $15 million film about an early 1940’s radio station earn in box office? Less than a million and a half, that’s how much. And you thought Howard the Duck bombed? Not everything can be Star Wars, eh, Indy?

George Lucas conceived the idea for Radioland Murders during the writing of 1973’s American Graffiti as a homage/remake of the Abbott and Costello films of old, 1942’s Who Done It in particular, which had the screwball comedic duo solving a murder at a radio station. To whip the “who done it” script into shape, Lucas brought on American Graffiti’s husband and wife screenwriting team of Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, who also worked on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Howard the Duck (1986) and, of course, they doctored Star Wars. Of course, we ‘80s video fringers and ‘70s Drive-In connoisseurs remember them best for their feature film debut, 1973’s Messiah of Evil (a movie so good, we reviewed it three times: HERE, HERE, and HERE).

For the roles of the estranged husband and wife radio team (Bud and Louella?) who become reluctant detectives to solve the murder of station owner General Walt Whalen on the inaugural night of WBN Chicago’s broadcast, Lucas cast Brian Benben from HBO’s “adult-themed” family-situation comedy Dream On (1990 —1996) and Mary Stuart Masterson, best known for her work in John Hughes’s Some Kind of Wonderful (1986). To say this retro radio romp killed both of their careers is an understatement. While Masterson pressed on with roles in several forgotten indie films, Radioland Murders proved to be Benben’s final film. Director Mel Smith never worked in mainstream Hollywood again and reverted back to British cinema. His most notably effort was Bean, the 1997 film version of the British series Mr. Bean, as well as 1985’s Morons from Outer Space, which he wrote and starred.

So, uh, is Radioland Murders funny? Is it “screwball” funny?

Nope. Not in the slightest. The Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, even The Ritz Brothers and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis are of a time and place. And when we want to go there, we want to see the originals—and nobody is clamoring to see Brian Benben as the lead in a feature film, let alone a send up of a 1930s “who done it” comedy. It makes you wonder how the movie would have turned out if Steve Martin and Cindy Williams starred as the leads as originally planned. . . .

Rounding out the cast is a who’s who of familiar character actors with Ned Beatty (Superman ’78), Michael Lerner (Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla ’98; Senator Brickman in X-Men: Days of Future Past), Christopher Lloyd (Dr. Brown from Back to the Future), Michael McKean (This is Spinal Tap), Jeffrey Tambor (Tom Manning in the Hellboy franchise), and Steven Tobolowsky (Commissioner Hugo Jarry in HBO’s Deadwood). Also be on the lookout for Corbin Bernsen (TV’s L.A Law, the Major League film franchise), Bobcat Goldthwaite, Larry Miller (The Nutty Professor franchise), and Harvey Korman who—ironically—starred as Bud Abbott in the 1978 TV movie bio-flick Bud and Lou.

“Hey, Abbott! Who done it?”

“I don’t know, Lou. The guy who played first base?”

“What do you think, R.D?”

Me? I’d rather skip Radioland Murders and watch you guys in Who Done It? instead. But with that supporting cast, B&S readers would probably want to take a look-see over on Amazon Prime and Vudu.

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.

Airheads (1994)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gregg Harrington is a podcaster, freelance journalist, musician and amateur screenwriter, known primarily for co-hosting the ’80s horror podcast Neon Brainiacs along with local filmmaker and actor Ben Dietels. When he’s not talking about Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger, he can be heard playing drums in the heavy grunge revival band, Pummeled and masterminding the straight edge power violence band, Rabid Pigs.

The importance of the radio has waned in the 21st century. The evolution of on-demand content via the Internet and other venues where we take in what we want when we want did a pretty swift job of dismantling the tastemaker privileges of the radio business. You can even hear it when you listen to the radio: Pittsburgh’s local “alternative” station has become an amalgamation of a handful of grunge bands, modern pop and one-hit wonders from the early 2000’s. You can hear Nirvana, Imagine Dragons, Pantera, New Radicals and Three Doors Down back to back. It’s weird. It’s also weird to think of a time where stations dictated what bands were huge and had more of a hand in curating local concerts and festivals.

One bastion of the importance of radio is 1994’s rock comedy Airheads, directed by Michael Lehmann (Heathers, Meet the Applegates). While Lehmann is known more for television directing these days, he certainly hit a home run with me in my adolescence with Airheads. Wearing out my VHS of it and later watching it over and over on Comedy Central glued each line of dialogue to my brain. Boasting an impressive cast and an even more impressive soundtrack, Airheads finds itself acting as a time capsule, capturing the hostile takeover of grunge, usurping the tight grip hair metal had on the American music scene, and recording a time where radio play made or broke local bands. Our absentminded heroes, played by Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler do a bang-up job embodying the spirit of musicians trying to “make it” in the 90s.

Down on their luck rock band the Lone Rangers are trying as hard as they can to get noticed around the Los Angeles music scene to no avail, so they resort to breaking into the local radio station, KPPX Rebel Radio, to force the station’s lead DJ, Ian The Shark (Joe Mantegna), to play their demo. When things go south due to the meddling of station manager Milo (Michael McKean), the gang pulls out an arsenal of toy guns that look extremely real and take the entire radio station hostage. From there, hilarity ensues. The chaos of the whole situation is fueled by the police presence outside and the shenanigans inside the station and over the airwaves, culminating in a feeding frenzy of a music video shoot in the parking lot and, later, in jail.

The musical touchstones of the film are many. For starters, Airheads revolves around the emerging single by the Lone Rangers (“there’s three of you, you’re not exactly lone”), “Degenerated”, which was originally performed by the New York punk band Reagan Youth. Kind of strange to think about that since the Lone Rangers are supposed to lean more towards Guns N Roses than east coast punk music. The movie version features Brendan Fraser on vocals with White Zombie’s guitarist Jay Yuenger and bassist Sean Yseult on the track as well. Speaking of White Zombie, for the club scene in the middle of the film, they can be seen performing “Eat The Gods” at the Whisky. Funny enough, the role of the live band was initially offered to Cannibal Corpse, but after the producers found out they had already appeared as a club band in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, they opted to go with White Zombie instead. It’s been reported that Metallica and Testament also turned down an offer to portray the band in that scene as well. The movie’s background is also doused in music ephemera, mostly of the punk and extreme metal variety. Stickers and posters can be seen with the logos of Cro-Mags, Obituary, and more. I’ve always felt this clashed with the Lone Rangers’ leanings more towards Sunset Strip glam metal, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

Airheads’ soundtrack is also pretty great, which is not surprising given the amount of 90s movie soundtracks that have lived on in the public consciousness (Judgment Night, Singles, Spawn, etc). Kicking off the movie is a re-recording of the Motorhead track “Born To Raise Hell”, which features guest spots from Ice-T (Body Count) and Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe, Life Of Agony). The original appeared on the band’s 1993 album Bastards. It’s a Motorhead song so you know it kicks ass. It’s also a great song to put over the opening credits, which is composed of the names of cast and crew along with time-lapse animations of random scenarios like making a sandwich and changing guitar strings. There are a few interesting cover songs on the soundtrack as well, including 4 Non Blondes covering “I’m The One” by Van Halen and, even more surprising, Anthrax covering the Smiths deep cut “London”. Coincidentally, Anthrax is also featured on the August 1993 cover of R.I.P. Magazine being read by Carter (David Arquette) during the film. Primus, Prong, the Ramones and the Replacements also make appearances as well.

As far as the movie itself, while it may not have gotten the best reviews or box office return, Airheads has lived on as a great music comedy, which I find to be on par with a film like This Is Spinal Tap. The villain-type characters portrayed by Michael McKean and Judd Nelson are spot-on, and the litany of secondary characters led by Joe Mantegna, Ernie Hudson and Chris Farley knock their performances out of the park. Plus, how many 90s comedies were made featuring three former Saturday Night Live cast members, two Ghostbusters, and a handful of MTV’s mover and shakers? Airheads is a truly fun watch and a visit back to a simpler time where people were radio stations were so influential, they were worth breaking into and taking hostages to get airplay.

You can stream it on Amazon Prime.

Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)

Tammy’s a popular high school cheerleader whose new boyfriend, Michael, might be the love of her life.

You are a movie viewer that can’t believe that Denise Richards and Paul Walker are in a 1990’s straight to video comedy that for some reason has near-insane levels of gore and blood.

If only Tammy’s jealous ex-boyfriend Billy didn’t kidnap Michael and throw him in a wildlife preserve, where he’s mauled by a lion and then has his brain implanted into a robotic T-Rex.

Yes, this is all true. Of course, if you rented this in the 1990’s, it was rated PG-13. Now, thanks to Vinegar Syndrome, we have the original vision of this film, which is…ridiculous to say the least.

Co-writer and director Stewart Raffill (The Ice Pirates, The Philadelphia Experiment, Mac and Me, Mannequin 2: Mannequin On the Move) described how this movie got made to the Bristol Bad Film Club by explaining that he went into business with a South American theater owner who had an animatronic T-Rex bound for a Texas park. “The eyes worked. The arms moved. The head moved. He had it for two weeks before it was going to be shipped to Texas and he came to me and said, “We can make a movie with it!” I said, “What’s the story?” and he said, “I don’t have a story, but we have to start filming within the month!” and so I wrote the story in a week.”

The film starts with Michael (Walker) and Billy getting into a fight where they won’t stop squeezing one another’s scrotums. In fact, this movie has more balls-related attacks than any other movie I’ve seen in some time.

Terry Kiser, the titular Bernie of Weekend at Bernie’s plays Dr. Gunther Wachenstein, who messily takes the brain of Michael and places it into that robotic dinosaur. He then flips out and goes wild, searching for the bullies that put him in this horrible situation. Oh yeah — John Franklin (Isaac from Children of the Corn) is Michael’s uncle who doesn’t care at all about what’s happening.

Efren Ramirez — Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite — shows up as a pizza boy and George “Buck” Flower is in this as well.

What you’re watching this for is to see Paul Walker’s soul inside a barely moving dino that messily dispatches of his tormentors. I have no idea who the audience is for this movie, but I count myself amongst it.

Once you realize that it comes from the man who brought you a child getting shot in the original cut of Mac and Me, it all makes sense. Also knowing that Raffill did the second Mannequin film makes the stereotypical ways of Tammy’s gay friend Byron Black make at least some modicum of sense, too.

You have to love a movie that misspells the lead character’s name — when she’s the title of the movie — as Tanny in the credits.

Ready to see something you may not be ready for? You can catch this on Shudder or go all out and get the blu ray from the awesome people at Vinegar Syndrome.

The Specialist (1994)

The Specialist is Stallone’s third highest-grossing movie at the box office in the 1990s — second overall to Cliffhanger — but it feels like a movie that no one likes. It was released as the Sharon Stone backlash was in full effect — she won Razzies for this film for worst actress and worst couple along with Stallone — and it’s the kind of 1990’s film that just doesn’t add up, thanks to unclear motivations and a murky plot. Luckily it has plenty of star power.

Ray Quick (Stallone) and Ned Trent (James Woods) once worked for the CIA until a mission to blow up a South American drug dealer led to the death of an innocent child. Now, Ray is a freelance hit man that takes only the missions that he cares about. He’s become an expert at shaping explosives, that is, killing only the target while leaving everyone else unharmed.

Probably the most likeable character in this movie is Ray’s cat Timer. The Maine Coon that plays this cat would return to work with Stallone again in Assassins. No, I didn’t make that up.

May Munro (Stone) is one of the people who needs his services. She’s supposed to be in her early twenties, despite Stone being 36 at the time. Just gloss over that. She’s been after Tomas Leon (Eric Roberts) for years, as he killed her parents. Instead of becoming Batman, she just calls Ray. For what it’s worth, he decides to take the job after seeing how hot she is. But she’s kind of a moron because she decides to get herself involved with Leon for some reason that’s never fully explained.

The magic of movies has placed Ned in the employ of Tomas’ father Joe (Rod Steiger, who deserves and knows better), the head of the Miami mafia. He runs the police, so he gets Ned on the bomb squad in an attempt to stop Ray from killing them all off. And somehow in the midst of all this mess, May has been forced to work with Ned to draw Ray out of hiding. If this all seems confusing, you should have been the one to watch this.

The whole point of this film isn’t even to get revenge, to be honest. It’s to get Stallone and Stone into bed together. That’s an admirable goal, I guess, but this is also a movie where the two leads pretty much have phone sex several times. It’s supposed to be sexy and flirty, but it comes off as masturbatory — no pun intended. Then again, this was the 90’s.

When asked about their shower scene in the film, Stallone shared perhaps too much: “OK. Let it be known, I didn’t want to do this scene because Sharon was not cooperating. We get to the set and she decides not to take her robe off. The director asks only a few of the crew to remain, and she still won’t take it off. I promised her I wouldn’t take any liberties, so what’s the problem? She said, “I’m just sick of nudity.” I asked her if she could get sick of it on someone else’s film. She was having none of it, so I went down to my trailer, brought back a bottle of Black Death vodka that was given to me by Michael Douglas and after half-a-dozen shots we were wet and wild.”

Director Luis Llosa would go on to direct Anaconda, so if you’d like to do a 90’s make no sense double feature, you should probably just have your own little miniature film fest of his work.

Old Friends Never Die (1994)

Someone wants Jonathan Hart dead, so they’ve created the perfect trap for him. That trap involves inviting his wife to a secluded getaway of other writers, which enables the creators of this made for TV reunion movie to gather all manner of guest stars. There’s also a lot of the Harts acting dippy, which seems to be their biggest hobby when they’re not stumbling over bodies. They spend an extended amount of time in this one acting like Laurel and Hardy, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Let’s get into the guest stars in this one, which is absolutely packed with them. There’s David Rasche, who we all remember from Sledge Hammer! and the Larry Cohen TV movie Wicked Stepmother. James Shigeta, who played doomed CEO Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi in Die Hard is here. Over here by the bean dip, we find David Leisure, who was Joe Isuzu, as well as starring on Empty Nest. They also invited Fred Willard, James Avery (Uncle Phillip from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Paul Williams, Vicki Lawrence (Mama’s Family and the singer of “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”) and Mike Farrell from M*A*S*H*.

Someone tries to kill Jonathan with bad seafood, so that should tell you how this one goes. Thankfully, the Harts survive — they better we have four more TV movies after this — and go back to acting like goofs. That’s why we love them, right?

You can get eight movies featuring the Harts on the new Mill Creek Hart to Hart Movies Are Murder Collection. If you’ve been missing shows where the leads encounter death around every corner when they’re not romancing one another, this set has exactly what you’re craving.

DISCLAIMER: This set was sent to us by Mill Creek, but that has no impact on our review.