Man of the House (1995)

At some point, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a thing. So was Chevy Chase. And I guess so was Farrah Fawcett. So imagine all of them in a movie where JTT wants his mom to never marry again and Chevy wants to be the man that breaks that cycle of her never finding the right stepfather for her son and you have Man of the House.

Becca loves this movie and asks to watch it frequently, which I figure has to do with the fact that we have a major age gap. Yet I watch it with her and enjoy how much she enjoys it.

The battles between would-be father and son continue as they both join the Minotauk Indian Guides led by Chet Bronski (George Wendt). And oh yeah — a mobster and his son that Chevy’s character sent to prison both want revenge.

Somehow, Disney made this movie without cleaing C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat” and Enigma’s “Return to Innocence” for the soundtrack. I have no idea how that happens.

Director James Orr also made They Call Me Bruce, a movie that Becca would absolutely refuse to watch with me, as well as Mr. Destiny, a movie that she has also watch in the multiple dozens of times. Orr also dated Fawcett until he was convicted of misdemeanor battery after attacking her for allegedly refusing his marriage proposal.

Ron Marchini Week Wrap Up!

Phew. We did it! Twelve Ron Marchini films in two days. You know the drill! Yee-haw, let’s round ’em up!

Born in California and rising through the U.S. Army’s ranks to become a drill sergeant, in his civilian life, Ron Marchini earned the distinction as the best defensive fighter in the U.S.; by 1972, he was ranked the third best fighter in the country. Upon winning several worldwide tournaments, and with Robert Clouse’s directing success igniting a worldwide martial arts film craze with Enter the Dragon (1973), the South Asian film industry beckoned.

After making his debut in 1974’s Murder in the Orient, Marchini began a long friendship with filmmaker Paul Kyriazi, who directed Ron in his next film, the epic Death Machines, then later, in the first of Ron’s two appearances as post-apoc law officer John Travis, in Omega Cop.

Ron also began a long friendship with Leo Fong (Kill Point) after their co-staring in Murder in the Orient; after his retirement from the film industry — after making eleven dramatic-action films and one documentary — Ron concentrated on training and writing martial arts books with Leo, as well as becoming a go-to arts teacher. Today, he’s a successful California almond farmer.

In the annals of martial arts tournaments, Marchini is remembered as Chuck Norris’s first tournament win (The May 1964 Takayuki Kubota’s All-Stars Tournament in Los Angeles, California) by defeating Marchini by a half a point. Another of Chuck’s old opponents, Tony Tullener, who beat Norris in the ring three times, pursued his own acting career with the William Riead-directed Scorpion.

You can learn more about Ron Marchini with his biography at USAdojo.com. An interview at The Action Elite, with Ron’s friend and Death Machines director Paul Kyriazi, also offers deeper insights.


Ron, second from right, with Chuck Norris, shaking hands, 1965. Courtesy of Ken Osbourne/Facebook.
Courtesy of USADojo.com.

The Flicks!

The Reviews!

New Gladiators (1973)
Murder in the Orient (1974)
Death Machines (1976)
Dragon’s Quest (1983)
Ninja Warriors (1985)
Forgotten Warrior (1986)
Jungle Wolf (1986)
Return Fire (1988)
Arctic Warriors (1989)
Omega Cop (1990)
Karate Cop (1991)
Karate Raider (1995)

Black tee-shirt image courtesy of Spreadshirt. Art work/text by B&S About Movies.

We love ya, Ron!

About the Review Authors: Sam Panico is the founder, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, and editor-in-chief of B&S About Movies. You can visit him on Lettebox’d and Twitter. R.D Francis is the grease bit scrubber, dumpster pad technician, and staff writer at B&S About Movies. You can visit him on Facebook.


Karate Raider (1995)

Ron Marchini Banner 1

Jake Turner (Ronald L. Marchini, who co-wrote and co-directed this) is on a rescue mission to liberate Jennifer Boyden, a DEA agent and the daughter of his old sergeant, who is being held by Pike (Joe Meyer, who has been in a bunch of Marchini’s films), an American drug lord in the jungles of Colombia. I mean, what was he doing anyway? Punching people for money?

Joe Estevez is in this, in case you need to know about the quality level of this film. This is a movie made for those with the kind of resolution that can watch five Philippines-shot war movies in a day and tell each and every one of them apart.

Also known as Fight to Win, this was also given the completely wrong title of Karate Commando: Jungle Wolf 3, a sequel in name only. In Greece, it was called Hamos stin agria zougla (Doom in the Wild Jungle). Now that’s a movie title. And yes, we’ve reviewed the first Jungle Wolf and it’s sequel, which is also known as Return Fire, just to add to the “sequel” confusion.

Perhaps the nuttiest thing about this movie is that the co-writer was Joe Carnahan, who went on to make Smokin’ AcesThe A-TeamBoss Level and The Grey, as well as the upcoming Western version of The Raid. Or is it? Because this is a movie that has Burt Ward as an evil doctor who helps out the drug kingpins and it’s just a cameo. And it’s also a film that was only released in the Netherlands, which must have appreciated an Indiana Jones-referencing title 24 years after Raiders of the Lost Ark.

You can watch this on YouTube. Trust me, this is not Delta Force 3.

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Legittima Vendetta (1995)

After working with Ninì Grassia on three films for the former adult actress turned mainstream actress Ramba AKA Malù AKA Ileana Carisio with no credit, Bruno Mattei worked again with Grassia — who co-wrote the screenplay and the music — on this film.

Paolo and Barbara Roversi (Antonio Zequila, who appeared in several of Mattei’s 90s erotic thrillers, and Gala Orlova, who was in Joe D’Amato’s Instinct and Pasquale Fanetti’s Lady Chatterley’s Passions 2: Julie’s Secret) have moved to the villa of Floriana (Monica Carpanese, Madness), a young rich girl who obsessed with dolls, instantly recalling the themes of many giallo.

Barbara is an actress and Paolo a businessman, but the stress of their lives has gotten to both of them. They plan an angle where they’ll become friends with Floriana and convince her to commit a crime, then blackmail her. The crime? Murdering Paolo, who will fake his death and then, they’ll take the strange woman’s collection of diamonds.

But you know how these erotic thrillers go.

This was produced at the same time as Omicidio al Telefono and Mattei claimed that he has never seen the edited versions of either film, as his contract only involved directing. He did, however, direct this under his most famous other name, Vincent Dawn.

However, he had issues with the actors, in particular Zequila, of whom he said, “He had to say a very ordinary line, “Women never keep their mouths shut .” He couldn’t say it and kept repeating variations on the line like, “women keep their mouths shut” and “women have their mouths shut” until at a certain point, I said to him, “I am writing this down for you on a piece of paper!””

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Un Grande Amore (1995)

Along with Gatta Alla Pari and Innamorata, Bruno Mattei made three uncredited films for producer Nini Grassia, who claimed himself as the director. This was a mainstream — well, softcore — vehicle for Ileana Carusio, an adult actress who went by the stage names of Malù and Ramba, which was given to her because she constantly posed with guns.

She became so popular that an entire comic book series was created, in which she portrayed a mercenary assassin who not only killed everyone she met, but often slept with them too. This would include other assassins, her targets and even a group of Russian mutants. The only person she ever loved was her cat. If Bruno Mattei’s movies could be comics, these would be those funny books.

Carusio retired around 1990 because of pressure from her Catholic family. For some strange whim of fate, they had no issue with her playing in softcore films. Hence, she did five more movies, including the aforementioned three that Mattei wouldn’t even design to use one of his many pseudonyms on.

Two young couples — Fay and Joe Williams (Carusio and Carlo Macaro) and Nick (Antonio Zequila, who was in a bunch of Mattei’s late period films like Madness and Omicidio al Telefono) and Lucy — go on a fancy vacation with only one shared bedroom. They all have some sexual issues to deal with — Fay wants to throw the hot dog down the hallway so often that Joe has become chronically limp, while Nick and Lucy are way into each other, but she sees every other woman as someone who wants to sleep with her husband.They’re soon joined by two newlyweds named Lou and Rose Aiello (Alex Damiani and Cristina Barsacchi) who have been given separate rooms instead of a bedroom to consummate their recent marriage.

This may seem like the set-up from a screwball fifties comedy or a sixties wink wink, nudge nudge sex comedy or even a seventies commedia erotica all’italiana, but it’s a 1995 Bruno Mattei movie. You know, if you love a lost genre and wonder, “Why don’t they make these kinds of movies any longer,” Mattei was making them after anyone else.

I’d say this was only for completists of the director, but I really think we’ve pushed beyond that into the limits of fandom.

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Innamorata (1995)

In Love is the last of three movies that Bruno Mattei anonymously directed for Ninì Grassia, who used the name Anthony Gray and took the credit.

Also known as Malù Innamorata, as Ileana Carisio — the former adult star known as Ramba using the name Malù — stars in this as well as The Surrogate, this story concentrates on Carlo Belleri (Antonio Zequila, who is in so many of these Mattei softcore movies) who lives with Marisa (Valeria Favaro, whose entire career was in this movie and Gatta alla Pari, also by Mattei and Grassia) and his brother Nino (Saverio Vallone, Antropophagus), who just can’t figure out women. Not even their niece Giusy (Malù) can figure out how to get the kid horizontal.

With help from Marco the gardener (Carlo Granchi, Madness) and some camping tourists, including Irina Sidorovskaia from Breakfast with Dracula — it happens. If you thought Italian sex comedies ended in the 70s, well — this movie was made in 1995.

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Cruel Jaws (1995)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Can you believe that we’ve written about Cruel Jaws twice? You can? These originally ran on December 12, 2018 and January 1, 2020. You can get this movie from Severin and watch it on Tubi.

Original review

Cruel Jaws has been released as Jaws 5 in many countries. It has nothing to do with the Jaws series of films other than ripping off footage from the first three films, as well as Deep Blood and The Last Shark. In fact, it goes so far to be Jaws that it rips off Hooper’s dialogue about what we know about sharks with some minor differences: “All they know how to do is swim and eat and make baby sharks, and that’s all.”

This one comes from the demented mind of Bruno Mattei, who also brought us crowd pleasers (if you consider me and my dog in the middle of the night a crowd) like Shocking DarkThe Other Hell and Rats: Night of Terror.

Dag Soerensen looks like Hulk Hogan, but he’s really the owner of the worst Sea World ever. His wife died in an accident and his daughter is in a wheelchair as a result, but even worse, he’s now behind on the rent. Greedy mobbed out real estate dude Sam Lewis is ready to shut him down, but Dag thinks he can capture the shark and save his little dolphin and seal mom and pop (well, until mom died) attraction.

It turns out that the shark in this one is a tiger shark engineered by the Navy to be a superweapon, yet it is now killing people all over Hampton Island. Dag and his family team up with Bill Morrisson, who desperately wants to be Hooper (even getting the stolen line mentioned above), to take out the shark with — you guessed it — explosives.

Most of the shark action — including the windsurfing scenes and the shark getting blown up — were ripped off completely from The Last Shark. Mattei also rips off Deep Blood and shark footage from the first three Jaws films, turning this into more of an exercise in sampling than an actual film. Yet I love it — where an American film would only hint at the bodies that wash up from an attack, Mattei revels in showing us gory bodies. I also adore that Mattei used the mafia subplot from the original novel that Spielberg took out of his movie. I’m certain he didn’t even realize what he was doing, which makes the end results even more entertaining.

There’s a windsurfing battle scene here — again, like I said, it’s all ripped off from The Last Shark — where one character says to another, “You’re a piece of shit. You’re vomit. You’re nothing.” while synthesizer beats bleat out of the screams of the crowd. Between that dialogue, the obvious cuts back to Castellari’s film and the fact that the two main windsurfers aren’t even moving as they race, I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier with an action sequence in a movie.

As part of this week of shark infested cinema, I tried to watch modern films that came out in the wake of Sharknado and couldn’t finish a single one of them. They all ape the Troma style, letting you in on the fact that they’re basically comedies. Screw that — I’d rather watch an inept film like this, with amateur American actors being unleashed upon dialogue stolen from other films while an Italian auteur (never has that word been applied to someone who exemplifies it less) barely puts together a coherent film.

Let me state my case one more time: Bruno Mattei used the music from Star Wars in this movie. Is this a hidden comment on how blockbusters destroyed the art and promise of the New Hollywood? Of course not. That said, I was so happy when the John Williams refrain played over dudes chumming the waters that I poured a drink over my head.

Shout! Factory almost released Cruel Jaws on a split blu ray with Exterminators of the Year 3000 in 2015, before realizing how much of the film is taken from other movies. “It came to our attention through several of our fans that Cruel Jaws had several scenes in it of unauthorized footage from Jaws 1-3 and other Italian-made shark films that makes it impossible for us to release this in the U.S. & Canada without risking legal ramifications. We gave serious thought about editing out the material of course, but it’s quite a bit of scenes to remove and we knew ultimately that doing that would not satisfy the film’s fans or new ones we wanted to attract.”

Another look

Theater of the Sea is one of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world and has been operated by the McKenney family since its inception in 1946. Thousands have thrilled to its daily aquatic shows, yet somehow, it became the host for an Italian made for TV and then direct to video opus known as Cruel Jaws or The Beast and best of all, Jaws 5.

Yes, just imagine if the excitement of a film crew coming to your local otter park, shooting a movie in your neighborhood, and then the man you were told was William Snyder ends up being Bruno Mattei – the very same madman behind The Other Hell, Shocking Dark and Rats: Night of Terror.

An excitable Miami Herald article from December 4, 1994 proclaimed the big news that the town of El Portal was now Hampton Bay, which is perhaps Amity Island’s sister city. If they only knew what mania lay in wait. For Bruno Mattei was about to craft not just a shark movie, but a remix of all of his favorites. Yes, much like Girltalk or similar DJs mix together multiple songs to create a new patchwork narrative, Mattei was about to throw copyright laws and common sense to the wind to create an entirely new shark movie.

It all starts with a ship evading the Coast Guard to pilfer the remains of a sunken ship called the Cleveland because possibly Mattei had no idea what the Edmund Fitzgerald was. Within seconds, the scuba scavengers are beset not by pilfered footage from Enzo G. Castellari’s Great White. Yes, a movie that was sued into oblivion for ripping off Jaws has now suffered the very same unkind cut! That’s when the credits roll and promise us “Original Shark Design And Special Effects Created By Larry Mannini.” I’m here to inform you, dear reader, that none of these effects are original. Even more to the point, I refuse to believe that Larry Mannini is a real person. Much like Lewis Coates, David Hills and Raf Donato, I think it’s an alter ego to cover up that Mattei just simply spliced sharks from a variety of movies into this opus.

Soon, we meet Billy Morrison, who is not like Matt Hooper in any way, as he drives with his girlfriend Vanessa as she chides him for leaving her last summer to chase killer whales. This year, he promises her sailing, tennis and disco until dawn. If only, Billy. He’s on the way to meet his pal Dag Snerensen, a Hulk Hogan lookalike with two kids — Bobby and the wheelchair-bound Susy — who also owns a bottom tier Sea World.

Susy lost the use of her legs in the accident that also took Dag’s wife out of this world. And now it’s time to meet Sheriff Berger, who serves the Hulkster’s brother with an eviction notice. Turns out that he’s three months behind on his rent to the evil land baron Samuel Lewis and only has 30 days to pay up.

But where are the sharks, you ask? Fear not. A bunch of kids running along the beach trip over the remains of one of the scuba guys from before and unlike an American movie that would just show their frightened faces, this film lingers over the gory latex aftermath. One autopsy later and Brody and Hopper – whoops, I mean Berger and Morrison — want to close the beach during the busiest weekend of the season.

After several party scenes and moments of cavorting on the beach, Mattei grows bored with presenting human beings that act like no real people you’ve ever met before and decides to start the killing anew, as a girl runs smack dab into the Chrissie Watkins scene from Jaws. Again, I’m not saying it’s a similar shot. It’s the exact same footage grafted into this film.

It turns out that the antagonist in this movie is a tiger shark engineered by the Navy to be a superweapon. Now, it’s killing people all over Hampton Island, so this film is also stealing the plot of Piranha, another movie directly inspired by Jaws. Along the way, the Mafia subplot from the novel Jaws was based on, the windsurfing race from The Last Shark and a Regatta stolen from Jaws 2 all happen. It’s like K-Tel’s Greatest Shark Attacks of the 1980’s with all your favorite great white super hits!

If none of this convinces you that you need to see this film — made by an Italian crew shooting a largely amateur group of Americans — then let me add that Mattei included some of John Williams’ music from Star Wars on his soundtrack, where it sits alongside screaming synth music and generic disco. Truly, this movie has something for everyone.

“You’re a piece of shit! You’re vomit! You’re nobody!” one character yells at another at one point. It’s dialogue like this that keeps me coming back to Italian bootleg cinema. In fact, the word shit is thrown around here like a racist epithet in a Tarantino film; allusions to feces fill nearly every story beat of this epic. Yet the greatest line is when the sheriff yells, “We’re going to need a bigger helicopter.” You really can’t write dialogue that great, It just has to happen.

Scream Factory, a subsidiary of Shout! Factory, once planned to release this movie on blu ray as a double feature along with Exterminators of the Year 3000. However, once they realized how much footage this movie cribbed from the Jaws trilogy and other Italian shark epics, they canceled the release.

That’s cowardice. Was Bruno Mattei worried about stealing directly from Spielberg even after years of lawsuits against any film that came close to Jaws? Nope. He didn’t just take from the original, but its two sequels as well. It was if he was daring the American judicial system to come after him.

Please keep in mind that this is no Sharknado or sub-Troma effort. Mattei was really trying to make a great shark movie. And that’s why I love this movie, particularly the big shark attack sequence about an hour into the film where everyone devolves into screaming morons. There were no second takes in this movie, no ADR re-recorded audio, no one in wardrobe to tell one of the girls that her white leotard outfit is ridiculous, no focus group to warn the filmmakers that this movie is borderline incomprehensible.

Yet with every viewing, my romance with Cruel Jaws grows more passionate. How can you not love a movie that ends ninety minutes of body munching gore and profanity-laden dialogue with a Scooby Doo-laugh filled close where a seal launches the newly redeemed bad guy into the ocean?

This article originally appeared in Drive-In Asylum Special Issue #4, which you can buy here.

Galaxis (1995)

Man, I’m ultra forgiving of Brigitte Nielsen. She’s been in some movies the normal world dunks on, like Red Sonja and Domino — who am I kidding, I’m the only person I know who has seen this movie where Nielsen plays a music video director who has a pet turtle and an obsession with Billie Holiday — and I am a fan of every one of them.

Kyla (Richard Moll) has destroyed Sintaria to get the jewel that he needs to rule everything. He didn’t count on invisible woman Ladera (Nielsen) to track down another jewel and challenge him, much less the fight coming to Earth. She has to help a human named Jed and fight mercenaries led by Victor Menendez, who is played by an actor named Fred Asparagus, who was Joe “Mama” Besser in This Is Spinal Tap.

This is a movie made for people like, well, you. People who come to this site and say, “I wonder what Cindy Morgan did after Tron and Caddyshack?” The answer is, she played a cop in Galaxis.

William Mesa, who directed this, was a special effects guy. He still is, as he’s worked on movies like Geostorm and Dolphin Tale 2 in recent years. He also directed The Darkening.

Also known as Terminal Force and Starforce, if you get drunk enough, you can pretend that you are watching The Hidden or I Come In Peace.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Colors of Infinity, aka Fractals: The Colors of Infinity (1995)

After discussing the public television broadcasts of the early “ancient future” computer precursor Hide and Seek (1983), which included a discussion of PBS-TV’s first feature film, A Lathe of Heaven (1980), we had to revisit this hour-long PBS documentary narrated by Arthur C. Clarke. And yes, The Colors of Infinity is, in fact, part of our “ancient future” theme week of reviews in tribute to the burgeoning technology of computers and the Internet committed to film in the ’80 and early ’90s — only we have to go through the Monsters of Rock festival and Pink Floyd to get there. Be patient.

Fans of the progressive rock scene of the 1960s know documentarian Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon for his longtime association with Pink Floyd. Or, if you’re a fan of ’70s British rock and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal of the ’80s, you know Gordon for his committing the very first “Monsters of Rock” at Castle Donnington festival to film in 1980 (You Tube/clip).

I bought this album from the back pages of Circus magazine for $3.99, plus a $1.50 shipping (what happened to my April Wine and Saxon hats)?

In 1966, while a student at the London Film School, Gordon preserved the first images of Pink Floyd on film (8 mm) with the eleven-minute, experimental silent short Syd Barrett’s First Trip, in which Gordon captured his high-on-magic-mushrooms classmate, Syd Barrett, frolicking in the Gog Magog Hills near Cambridge. Then, in 1967, Gordon chronicled Pink Floyd at Abbey Road Studios signing their first recording contract with EMI Records. (Both events have since been combined on one DVD. You can watch Syd Barrett’s First Trip on You Tube.)

Then, in a partnership with noted album design company Hipgnosis, Gordon formed his first production company, Green Back Films. In addition to creating promotional “pop clips” for Joe Cocker, Donovan, and Pink Floyd that aired on variety television shows, Green Back produced hit MTV videos for Big Country and Squeeze (“In a Big Country,” “Tempted”). They also produced Incident at Channel Q (1986), a long-form video/feature film that incorporated several of their rock video productions. Another one of their popular video rentals was the feature-length documentary Rainbow: Live Between the Eyes, which captured Ritchie Blackmore and company touring their sixth album, Straight Between the Eyes (1982) (since released on DVD and uploaded to You Tube).

1991-era tech. How quaint. Yet, it opened an undiscovered world.

Finally, we’re here. And it wasn’t even as deep as a Mandelbrot set.

Many of us were first fascinated by this documentary in 1995, aired as a post-script to PBS-TV’s commercial-free broadcast of the original, 1968 theatrical release — complete with intermission title card — of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The films were paired as result of their common denominator: Arthur C. Clarke, who serves here as narrator. The soundtrack is, of course, courtesy of David Gilmore of Pink Floyd. And Floyd fans take note: band aficionados claim the music from Fractals also appeared, in part, on the band’s The Division Bell (1994) and The Endless River (2014).

So, what’s a Fractal?

Image of VHS available on multiple mathematics, documentary, and online seller sites.

Fractals are an everyday part of our lives. The discovery of Fractals, aka Fractal Geometry, made Data Image Compression Software possible. You know all of those JPEGs you upload to your WordPress pages? All of those selfies you snap and share on Twitter? The ability to store all of that information on a tiny thumb drive? That’s all because of Fractals.

The Colors of Infinity is the story of Belgian mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot discovering what is now know as the M-Set (or Mandelbrot Sets) in the early seventies and coining the term “fractal” to describe the geometry behind it. It wasn’t until 1991, with the advent of personal computers, that man was able to gaze at the wondrous, psychedelic images — “God’s fingerprint” — created by basic fractal equations. Then, British mathematician and computer graphics researcher, Professor Micheal Barnsley, based on Mandelbrot’s discovery, developed the fractal image compression technology that we don’t go through a day in our ubiquitous, digital lives without using.

Think about it: The Linux operating system was first released in 1991. Tim Berners-Lee first turned on the web at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in 1991. We were just beyond our old Apple IIs and Atari 800s (packing 8-bits and playing Joust!), our Commodore 64s and DEC Rainbows 100 (Yikes, Rainbow, dudes: two huge operating manuals?), our TRS-80s (packing that Zilog Z-80 microprocessor!) and our first IBM PC clones running software from some guy name Bill Gates.

Then we had our “ancient future” digital life distilled to this:

z⇌z²+c

However, don’t let the fact that this film discusses the theories of Euclidean space deter you from watching, as Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon has a reputation as a documentarian for presenting the complex for easy consumption by mass audiences. Again, if you have a curiosity to know how your smart phone records and stores all of those still images and video into what is the size of a credit card, then this is a great watch.

After its U.S. public television broadcast on PBS-TV, Fractals was issued on VHS and, a few years later, subsequently released on DVD. However, caveat ye denizens of the Amazon and eBay marketplaces, as the DVDs for sale are straight VHS rips with a quality that’s no better than the washed-out uploads found video staring sites, which vary from either TV-to-VHS or direct-from-VHS rips.

In 2004, Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon himself reissued the DVD, included as a supplement to his authored paperback version of the film: The Colours of Infinity: The Beauty and Power of Fractals (copies are easily available on Amazon). You can learn more about Fractals and Mandelbrot sets on Wikipedia. You can also watch three of the many “Fractal Zoom” videos on You Tube HERE, HERE, and HERE; however, the music selections on each are questionable, poor choices. We suggest you play those videos with the sound off and use the audio from one of the many “ambient space music” uploads on You Tube to best enjoy the wonders and mysteries of Fractals.

Trip out as you watch Fractals: The Colors of Infinity in its entirety on You Tube.

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.

Hackers (1995)

Before we begin discussing Hackers, perhaps the most 90’s movie of all time next to Singles, let’s apply our version of the Turning test to it to see if we can consider Hackers a true cyber punk film.

Does it have the title of a Philip K. Dick book but not really have much to do with it?

Nope. This is grounded in the world of phreaks and hackers, as best seen in real life in the documentary Hackers: The History of Hacking.

Is there a lot of rain?

Not so much.

Does the male hero wear dress clothes and/or a trenchcoat?

Oh man, everyone wears a trenchcoat at one time or another, as well as having their own very distinct style of uniform. It’s kind of like The Warriors on a much, much smaller scale.

Do Keanu Reeves, Ben Affleck, Dolph Lundgren or Udo Keir appear in it?

No, but man, I sure wish they did.

Does the internet do something it can’t do yet, yet look dated AF?

That’s this entire movie. Seriously, a lot of the internet appears as if it lives in the characters’ heads as clips from old movies and TV shows, as if this were Dream On (an ancient HBO reference I realize is going over the heads of way too many of our readers). Also: there’s a scene where the Internet is used to turn off a Wally George-style show (I was born in 1972, people) and a videotape of The Outer Limits plays in its place. Low tech in the service of high tech.

Are Stabbing Westward, KMFDM, Ministry or God Lives Underwater on the soundtrack?

This movie didn’t just have one soundtrack, it had three different releases. The first has Carl Cox, Machines of Loving Grace, Leftfield, Underworld and Orbital on it. The second has The Orb, David Bowie, BT and Moby. And the third has those artists plus Fluke and John Lydon. Even better, Simon Boswell, who did the music for Stage Fright and Phenomena, amongst others, did the score.

Is it a crappy version of Blade Runner?

Nope. There is a William Gibson reference, which I may need to add to the test.

Are there numerous Asian-influenced scenes?

Surprisingly, no.

Do people use future terms that make no sense?

Throughout.

Are there a lot of whirring sound effects?

Of course they do.

Do people stare at the camera as it moves through a neon-lit strip club?

Yes, it has a party scene that is so opulent that you wonder, “How can these be teenagers?”

Are there rock stars in it?

Yes! Marc Anthony plays an FBI agent. One could argue that Angelina Jolie is beyond a rock star if you want to get technical.

Is there a feral child?

I’d argue that every single one of the Hackers is a feral child.

By following the rules of this text, as designed by our team of engineers here — me, basically — the ruling is that Hackers is not post-apocalyptic (barring a Tenebre-level in the director’s head twist) nor is it cyberpunk. It is, however, an ancient future film and one that had my wife wondering, “Was this what the nineties were like?” She was born in 1984 and I have to confess to you, dear reader, that my 90’s were spent in college and working eighty-plus hour a week advertising jobs.

I told her, “This is what it was like all the time.”

Back in August of 1988, a hacker named Zero Cool used his 1200 baud modem to crash 1,500 computer systems and cause a seven-point drop in the NYSE. It turns out that said hacker was really eleven-year-old Dade Murphy, who is banned from all computers and touch-tone phones — how would he call 911? — until he turns eighteen.

Literally the day he turns legal, Dade becomes Crash Override and pulls off that VHS switcheroo we discussed above. He’s met and countered by another hacker named Acid Burn, who kicks him out. Oh yeah — and he’s also played by Johnny Lee Miller now.

He has a new school and has to fit in. Magically, this school has an entire roster of hackers who all follow the Hacker Manifesto.

“This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias… and you call us criminals. Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity.”

They are:

Ramon “The Phantom Phreak” Sanchez: Able to get into any phone system, he’s played by Renoly Santiago from Dangerous Minds and Con Air.

Emmanuel “Cereal Killer” Goldstein: Matthew Lillard is this guy, who seemingly dresses as if he was inside the Matrix four years before that movie ever got made. He’s also edgy and wears dresses because he’s a hacker and hackers do whatever they want. Lillard was also 25 when this was made, making him the oldest of the high school hackers.

Paul “Lord Nikon” Cook: Given this name because he has a photographic memory, this hacker is played by Laurence Mason.

Joey Pardella: Played by Jesse Bradford, he’s the youngest member of the group and has not yet earned his hacker code name (when I went to my first hackathon, they have us all printed name badges that many of us covered up with electric tape so no one could tie our faces in to our handles; I was 14 and my parents dropped me off. I was the youngest person there by several decades).

Kate “Acid Burn” Libby: Pretty much considered the greatest hacker around, she’s the frenemy of our lead and a rich girl who throws indulgent parties. She’s also Angelina Jolie and coming into her peak of power here. This part was originally going to be played by Katherine Heigl, who did the second Under Siege movie instead.

Crash Override has to prove himself to his new hacker buddies, so he breaks into “The Gibson” — yay cyberpunk reference —  the supercomputer that runs the Ellingson Mineral Company. While downloading a garbage file as proof, his mother — who is convinced he’s back to his evil hacking ways — unplugs the computer.

This brings him to the attention of sell-out hacker turned computer security officer Eugene “The Plague” Belford (Fisher Stevens, which when you think about it is amazing casting, as just eight years earlier he was playing the hero version of the hacker role in Short Circuit; Johnny Five would not be pleased by this turn of events). Yes, he is pulling off the Richard Pryor Superman III scam that would one day become the Office Space scam.

It turns out that the file our hero has downloaded isn’t garbage. It’s a virus that will destroy a fleet of oil tankers that The Plague plans on taking advantage of and blaming hackers. He brings in the Secret Service to go after our heroes, who have to use their powers of typing, logging on and pranking people to win the day.

There’s also an internet TV show called “Hack the Planet” that for some reason has no buffering issues, which remain a problem in 2021 much less in 1995 when this was made.

Also — how about getting Lorraine Bracco as our hero’s mom, Felicity Huffman as an attorney and Penn Jilette as Hal, an IT guy who gets no nickname? Plus, that bearded London-based hacker? That’s David A. Stewart of Eurythmics!

This is my favorite fact about this movie: “The cast spent three weeks getting to know each other and learning how to type and rollerblade.” Yes, rollerblading is an essential part of the plot!

Director Ian Softly — who also made Backbeat — would go on to direct K-PAX, a movie in which Kevin Spacey eats a banana skin and all.