Junesploitation 2021: Dobermann (1997)

June 23: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is 90s action.

Dobermann (Vincent Cassel, Black Swan) got his first gun at his baptism. Now, he leads a gang of bank robbers, made up of his knife-throwing deaf girlfriend Nat the Gypsy (Monica Bellucci!), Olivier who is also a woman named Sonia, Pitbull and even a priest who likes to put grenades into the helmets of motorcycle cops.

A sadistic cop named Christini (Tchéky Karyo) has been chasing Dobermann for what seems like an eternity and he decides that this will be the night he catches him. He sets up an ambush in a club as the gang celebrates their latest bank robbery and his methods are even worse than the villains.

This film may have an opening CGI animation that looks dated and sure, it’s highly influenced by Tarantino, but it’s packed with action and incredibly cool villains as protagonists. There’s been a sequel planned for a long time and I hope that it gets made. If you’re into gunplay set to music by Prodigy, I mean, you really should watch this. I also realize that this is a very small subgenre of action film fans, but so it goes.

Director Jan Kounen and Cassel would go on to make Blueberry, which is based on the comic books by Jean “Moebius” Giraud. That makes sense, as this film is also based on a comic book by Joel Houssin.

Deadly Instincts (1997)

The alien in this movie has a funny way to go about saving its planet. It’s mating with us, but also killing us, so that seems kind of over the line, you know? How lucky for that alien to land in an all-girls school, I guess. Or unlucky, if I’m taking the side of the humans.

Also known as Breeders, this movie left me with so many questions. Why is Ashley the only teacher? Who is that woman in the leather running about the place? Why is she called Space Girl? Is this a remake of the 1986 film Breeders? Can a shotgun kill a breeder alien? Was the ending setting up a sequel?

Sadly, the actress who played Space Girl, Kadamba Simmons, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend not long after this movie was finished. I really enjoyed her in this film, a true bright spot in a film that’s kind of dull.

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Ljuba – Corpo e anima (1997)

Body and Soul is a little-seen Bruno Mattei film in which has a model named Ljuba (Christine Dowell, who only made this movie) getting horizontally involved with a uranium thief.

By 1997, Mattei had realized what most horror directors have learned today about Christmas movies. If a genre sells, make every movie you can within it. The Italian exploitation mindset, already used to the giallo and sex comedies, was easily able to adjust when the world wanted knockoffs of Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction. Mattei made several films in this field like A Shudder on the SkinBelle de MoirreSnuff Killer and Legittima Vendetta.

Those who have watched too many Italian genre films — hello friends! — will notice Gianni Franco (Rats: The Night of TerrorDelirium) and Massimo Vanni (Shocking Dark) in this movie.

And for those of you that know Bruno Mattei, you’ll be pleased to know that he completely takes the limo love scene from No Way Out.

 

Starship Troopers (1997): Another Take or: Why I Need to Stop Worrying about the Poor Portrayal of Women in Space Flicks and Just Love This Movie

Author’s Note: Please note this is a film review that addresses the creative art of filmmaking only, which attempts to help the viewer reach an understanding regarding the creative development of its subject-film genre. This review is not a political dissertation in support of or in contradiction of any sociopolitical belief system (we get into Fascism and Nazism, here) and is not intended to incense any reader regarding social or free speech/opinion issues. This review was written as an affectionate tribute to our “Space Week” theme of films set in outer space.


Or, as I like to call it: Battlestar Beverly Hills, aka Melrose Place in Space, aka Space: 90210. Yes, Sam the Boss loves this movie (October 2018 review), but . . .

Oh, how much do I hate ye; Starship Troopers? Let me count the ways.
For the depth and breadth and height that
I cherish Escape from New York,
My said hatred is thrust upon Escape from LA;
That is how much I hate ye.
Oh, ye wooden, California pretty girls and fancy boys in space;
For how much I love Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm
Is how much I also hate Phantasm II;
For that is how much I hate you, ye faux-fascist star troopers
In your hockey-plastic, Buck Rogers wears.

Is it your driftwood acting?
Is it your unconvincing CGI on a multi-million budget?
Is it Casper Van Diem’s soap opera sheen;
For did he think he’d get a Tom-like cruise,
Onward to A-List stardom in his feature film debut?
Is it that the sheer force of Michael Ironside
And the amazing-in-every-film Clancy Brown
Can’t erase the perpetual goofy-gaze of Denise Richards (“I want to be a pilot!”)
Or the macho, toothy-mugging of Jake Busey?
And forget not the thespin’ boondoggles of Dr. Doogie.

Frack! This movie sucks the feldercarb off Doc Brown’s flux capacitor. I need a shot of tranya, Commader Balok. Fesarius-me the hell out of this mess of Klendathuian space crap.

Well, looks like we’ve got a Battlefield Earth II sequel.

I love how the Wikipage on Starship Troopers—as with the Wikipage for Alien that tries, and fails, to hide the multiple film and literary plagiarism lawsuits against that film—tries to hides the fact (via multiple edits) that Melrose Place in Space began its production history as a totally unrelated, outright ripoff of Robert A. Heinlein’s late ‘50s classic novel, Starship Troopers, known as Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine. Now, the updated Wikipage tells us that the film adaptation of Heinlein’s novel jettisoned his superior (common sense) title for the dumb, exploitive-cum-ripoff title of Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine.

(That’s as awful a title as Dan O’Bannon’s original title for Alien: Star Beast; a title that he blindly fought to keep (he thought “Alien” was stupid) for his remake (no, it wasn’t, he claims) of It! The Terror from Beyond Space and ripoff (no, it wasn’t; he never saw it, he claims) of Planet of the Vampires. Right, Dan. And Sam Raimi never saw Equinox, either. And even O’Bannon’s title was a clip: it was the title of a 1954 Heinlein novel.)

Uh, wrong, A-List studio digital content managers stacking the digital Wiki-decks.

The script for Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine was already in the production cue, and then—when the similarities to Heinlein’s book came to light, a rush was made (probably to stave off the eventual, Harlan Ellison-inspired lawsuit against James Cameron’s The Terminator, natch) to license Heinlein’s novel—purely for the title, while pinching some character and location names from the book, so as to make us think we were getting a Heinlein adaption (another Heinlein book-to-film was 1953’s Project Moonbase). (Man, this is as awful as all of those bogus Philip K. Dick adaptations that don’t resemble his books.)

Paul Verhoeven—who wowed us with RoboCop and Total Recall (speaking of Phil K.), shocked us with Basic Instinct, and made us groan with Showgirls—was certainly well-intentioned with Starship Troopers. He is, in fact, a superior filmmaker, and his pre-stardom films Soldier of Orange, The Fourth Man and Flesh and Blood are proof of that fact (see all three, do it). But then he had to go and toss out Heinlein’s novel and stick to the inane Bughunt script: Starship Troopers is Starship Trooper in name only.

Films, like novels, are subjective. And many read Heinlein’s novel as racist-offensive; that it was pro-fascism and pro-militarism, with a desire that the world should supplant democracy for nationalism; that the only way to solve the world’s problems—real or imagined, or to institute your version of “right”—is by dispensing a large-scaled Wehrmacht. And to that end: Verhoeven decided to infuse a blatantly exaggerated anti-propaganda and anti-conformist message, which, again, was the point of his extraterrestrial “big bug movie’: a critique of America’s military. (Yeah, right. America’s military is the force that needs to be taken to critique-task. Insert my eye-roll, here.)

My read—big surprise—of Heinlein’s novel is different: I don’t see it as “pro” anything: I read it as anti-everything. In my read—wholly against Verhoeven’s tongue-in-cheek celluloid interpretation—is that Heinlein’s point is that a fascist way of doing things doesn’t work. Nationalism will not work. In fact, I read Starship Troopers as a novelistic precursor to ‘70s nazisploitation: films misconstrued as glorying Nazism (and a mere post-review of one of those films gets you suspended-to-banned from social media platforms). To say that Heinlein’s Starship Troopers is pro-fascism is to say Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom is pro-fascism and glorifies Nazism.

And that assumption on Pasolini’s masterpiece couldn’t be more wrong.

Yes . . . but we didn’t want you!

As we discussed in our review of Naomi Holwill’s Fascism on a Thread: The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema (2020), a brilliant document on that unpleasant genre of film, Pasolini’s wasn’t (as was Verhoeven, in my opinion) using Nazism or Fascism as theatrical window dressing (do un-dumb the fact that ST was just a stupid f’in, big alien bugs movie). Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom was a societal mirror forced into our face. American comedian Lenny Bruce wasn’t “filthy” for the sake of filth: the ‘60s world was smut-ridden; he simply made us—forced us—to look at society in its true form, as a warning for us to change the err of our ways before society was lost (and the ways we behave on social media these days, we’re already lost). And Pasolini’s film was, too, a horrifying lesson of the absolute corruption of power, a power-corruption in the same vein that Otakar Vavra’s Witchhammer (1970) addressed the issue.

And that’s what Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers is to me: a lesson on the absolute corruption of power; that man, unchecked, would be so maniacal in his dominance that—when of Oliver Cromwell runs out of witches, Hernán Cortés runs out of Aztecs, the Mayans are wiped off the Earth, the last and American Indians are reservation-stockpiled, and when there is no gold at the end of Gonzalo Pizarro’s El Dorado-rainbow (a crazed dominance explored in Werner Herzog’s 1972 film, Aguirre, the Wrath of God)—man will conquer bugs . . . and squash them, well, like bugs, for domain and wealth.

No. Heinlein (IMO) is not comparing Jews or Negros to bugs; saying those peoples are lower than bugs and need to be exterminated like bugs (dear lord, don’t people read?). Heinlein’s pondering: When does it end. When is enough, enough. Is there an end to all your survey. What will man do when there is no one left to conquer and to subjugate?

Heinlein’s books were, in fact, an education on the value of racial equality and the importance of racial tolerance—not stamping out other races and religions for the superiority of another race or political system. It’s a book against what we know today as “cancel culture.”

How can Michael Ironside read the book and be a fan of the book, and then, reportedly, chastise Verhoeven for “making a fascist film” while on set? Maybe if Verhoeven actually read the book that he, reportedly, disliked, he would have realized the book was already a parody; that a biting sociopolitical statement laid inside its pages. So, Paul, we didn’t need a cast of thirty-something, shiny, happy pretty teenagers, along with bogus internet-social media feed inserts (based on Nazi propaganda films, ugh, who cares), to tell me: fascism: bad. The message was already there inside the book, Hollywood.

Then, there’s the muddled plot—and the utterly annoying-to-wooden, perpetually goofy-toothy “I want to be a pilot” grin (all I kept thinking of was Hermey the Elf from the ‘60s TV holiday special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, with his “I want to be a dentist” wishes) of Melrose Place tenant Lt. Carmen Ibanez. She’s in a high school (?), romance with John “Johnny” Rico. She puts military junk in his head, to the chagrin of his parents, who don’t like her, and convinces Johnny that, to impress her, he needs to join up and “be a citizen.” Then she—because he’s on the military fast track to pilot-dom (and smarter than the 35% math-scoring Johnny)—reciprocates the flirts of Lt. Zander Barcalow (Patrick Muldoon; the only one up to the Ironside-Brown challenge) to the point the love-triangle she instigates inspires fisticuffs between her two suitors. (That’s so very Ross-teasing-Rachel Green of you, Carmen.)

Wanted: Carmen Ibanez: 12 million counts of murder.

Then, Carmen gets her “I want to be a pilot” wish! And while she’s on third shift—in lone charge of the helm of a multi-billion dollar starship and the lives of a hundreds-strong crew (and in-defense of the Earth, mind you)—Melrose-babe decides it’s proper military etiquette to have a little coffee clutch with Zander on the bridge. And while she’s hoping to have a little post-Starbucks Zander-in-the-uniform-pant, she misses the warning for a bug-asteroid coming out of Jupiter hyperspace—which was the whole point of the ship’s stationary orbit: asteroid patrol. And the asteroid rips away the ship’s communications array. And there’s no way to warn Earth. And her hometown of Buenos Aires is wiped off the face of the Earth by said bug-oid. And 12 million people are dead because Lt. Ibanez decided two-timing Johnny (who she subsequently dumps via hard-disk mail—again with the “I want to be a pilot” lamenting) with Zander over coffee-to-sex was more important than monitoring the helm. Of course, the logical thing to do is to promote Ibanez to Captain—and give her first chair, which was Xander’s old job (I think he died, or something). And, wasn’t it established that the spacecruisers have hyperdrives? So, if communications are out, why not hyperdrive back to Earth—ahead of the asteroid? And, in the opening scenes, didn’t one of the faux-propaganda films clearly show a space cannon obliterating an almost-ready-to-hit-Earth asteroid? Arrgh!

What is it with women-in-space flicks? Why can’t the women be smart and moral? Why must they be vapid, sex-driven, teasing jezebels? We need more Ripleys and Lamberts and less spandex-William Deerings and Lt. Ibanezes in sci-fi. And I thought the plot holes and dumb character motivations from BSG: TOS were feldegarb (more so after Lt. Sheba, daughter of Cain showed up). And I thought Wing Commander (1999)—with Freddy Prinze, Jr.’s pretty-boy-amid-the-awful-CGI-stars—was daggit dung. Low-budget epics like Project 762 (reviewed this week, look for it) and Space Mutiny have an excuse for their bad CGI and dumb characters and Bechdel-fails, as it’s a par-for-the-course that I expect and accept. But multi-million dollar A-List films like Starship Troopers—and Escape from L.A. (don’t get me started)—do not get that pass. They just do not, as I will not accept the “nuff said” logic that Starship Troopers “is a great movie” simply because Denise Richards and Dina Meyer are board as eye candy for the hormone-infused teens in the audience (and the he-man characters in the film).

By the Kobol Lords, I hate this movie. And I could surely count more ways (like the stupid-as-ass, backflipping faux-XFL football game; recruits handover paper induction forms to a behind-the-desk clerk using a rubber-notary stamp . . . in the friggin’ 23rd century: why not have recruits micro-chipped and hand-scanned, for example) . . . but that’d be like kickin’ a sick daggit when it’s down.

And besides, it’s time for lunch.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Convict 762 (1997)

The late, requisite screen baddie Billy Drago—best known for his breakout role in Clint Eastwood’s Palerider (1985)—brought me here. Billy Drago—of Chuck Norris’s Invasion U.S.A. (1985) and Hero and the Terror (1988)—kept me watching. And Billy Drago—who made Hunter’s Blood (1986) watchable and Banzai Runner (1987) bearable—made me take the journalistic plunge on Convict 762, so as to put another one of Drago’s film’s on the B&S site—out of admiration and respect to the dynasty that is Count Drago.

Another name amid the credits of Convict 762 you’ll recall is Luca Bercovici (who will always remind me as Dennis Christopher’s faux-brother), a writer, director, an actor who—across his 60-plus acting and ten-plus writing and directing credits, we don’t mention enough on this site, outside of his appearance in Space Raiders (1983) and his writing and directing Rockula (1990). We’ve never gotten around (and probably won’t) to reviewing his writing and directing debut of the Gremlins-cum-Critters rip Ghoulies (1985), which turned into a four-part franchise.

Then, with Josh Whedon reactivating the Alien franchise in 1997 with the series’ fourth entry, Alien: Resurrection, Luca decide, for his sixth directing effort, he would direct the fourth—and final—screenplay of the once prolific, low-budget scribe J. Reifel. Reifel saw four of his sci-fi scripts go into simultaneous production in 1996 for EGM Film International (The Shadowchaser franchise and 1998’s Outside Ozona), with Timelock*, The Apocalypse, and Dark Planet for Charles Band’s Moonstone-imprint for dual-distribution on home video and the Sci-Fi Channel (in the days before the double-“y”).

Now, because of Michael York starring, I’ve seen (and don’t remember because it wasn’t very good) Reifel’s Dark Planet. And sadly, if not for the retro-UHF channel Comet running Convict 762 this past January 2021, I never would have sought it out on Tubi to watch. And, even with the presence of Billy Drago, I’ll soon forget this film once it publishes and is lost amid the 1,000s of other reviews at B&S About Movies. And speaking of distribution and Charles Band’s marketing tomfoolery: In the wake of the success of David Fincher’s Pitch Black (2000) (again, there’s that Alien connection), Moonstone reissued Convict 762 to home video with a Riddick-esque cover. But be not ye duped, oh, star explorer, for this ain’t a Riddick romp, not by a long shot.

Don’t fall for the dick faux Riddick.

However, not all is weak tea with this direct-to-video potboiler: Convict 762 has its strong points beyond Billy Drago’s presence. And those strengths come in the form of the stellar, Cormanesque up-against-the-budget production design led by art director Ron Mason (who’s work you know these days for The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy franchise). Kudos also goes out to set designers Denise Dowden (who vanished from the business) and Ann Shea, who ended up at CBS-TV (to work on several of their long-running series, including The Big Bang Theory). Tip o’ the hats as well to costume designer Wendy Benbrook, who’s still at it with FX-TV (most recently working on You’re the Worst). Courtesy of that behind-the-scenes-team’s collective efforts, Convict 762, again, taking into consideration it’s a low-budget product touched by the hand of Charles Band, looks really good. That is, until the CGI spaceships and exteriors (really bad, like Escape from L.A. bad) rear their ugly head, and then the rest of the cast chokes-on-screen in comparison to the thespin’ excellence of the always-making-chicken salad-out-of-chicken-shite Count Drago.

At the risk of insulting the still-(for the most part)-at-it actresses: Having been down more horror and sci-fi rabbit holes than the average VHS-rental dog, I’ve seen more than my fair share of low-budget B-renters starring reformed porn actress of the Traci Lords and alas-starring Michelle Bauer, aka Pia Snow, variety. Hey, it’s par for the course when you celluloid-mainline too many Fred Olen Ray and David DeCoteau movies. So, when I see a cast of unknown names like Shae D’lyn (who still at it on Orange is the New Black and Boardwalk Empire; a 96-episode run on Dharma & Greg?) and Tawye Fere (from Rockula?), well, what would you think? So, I deserve a Bechdel pass on this one.

The truth is: If Lords and Bauer—who have more than proven their B-acting chops over the years—along with Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens, were on board as the all-female crew of the star cruiser Alexandria, this film would be so much more awesome for it. For with films like this: you must go ditch the unknowns for a full-on-familiar exploitation cast—or the film simply will not work. (And this film, ultimately, does not.) On the other hand: Roger Corman hired both Jim Wynorski and Fred Olen Ray to co-create Dinosaur Island (to get more mileage out his expensive Carnosaur footage) and that film works because, not only of their B-Movie triumvirate pedigree, but because they hired reformed adult actresses Michelle Bauer, Becky LeBeau, Deborah Dutch, and Toni Naples—which is why more have seen that film instead of this one.

At first, the idea of a crew of Ripleys and Lamberts sounds like a great idea. Until the script Bechdels-off-the-rails into a 1950s sci-fi throwback (Project Moonbase) (and I know that is NOT the film’s intention), with bits about women—even behind the command of a starship, mind you—are still bad drivers who get lost in asteroid fields because they can’t read star maps (and I thought Denise Richards’s character in 1997’s Starship Troopers was badly written; yeah, we’re giving that a new take, this week, for “Space Week”). (At least Bercovici keeps them in Nostromo-wears and out of the skimpy-wears.) Oh, and the gals forgot to get gas (or plasma, or atomic-somethings) poured into the drive-tanks. But, in the ladies’ defense: asteroid damage forced them to jettison fuel to save the ship from exploding (or something). Luckily, a penal colony (ugh, and we cue David Fincher’s Aliens 3, again) on the only-populated planet in the system is their lone option for repair and refueling. And it’s there that they meet Jason Vorhees and The Terminator, uh, I mean Mannix and Vigo. (Uh, yes, the very-similar Jason-in-space flick, Jason X, showed up in 2001—and Ron Mason worked on that film’s artistic team.)

Mannix (Drago) and Vigo (Frank Zargarino of the aforementioned Shadowchaser franchise and a few Philippine knockoffs, most notably the Mark Gregory classic Ten Zan: The Ultimate Mission) both claim to be the last prison guard and last prisoner survivors of an inmate uprising that resulted in the deaths of everyone on the colony (and one of them is an android-cum-cyborg). Now, in the tradition of the last-two-men-standing-in-mistaken-identity-to-the-danger-of-a-group-of-bad-decision-making-ne’er do wells . . . I know I’ve seen this before . . . and I can’t place it. (Damn it! Was it a ‘60s Star Trek episode?) So, I’ll just say it pinched (reminds me) from the 1986 Rutger Hauer and C. Thomas Howell actioner The Hitcher, where Hauer’s psycho leads others to believe Howell’s the serial killer. And whoever the serial is, here (the script, to its credit, does keep us guessing), they Jason-cum-Xenomorph-offed the Alex’s entire crew—sans Shannon Sturges, here as Commander Nile. Now, Nile could be a Ripley, but she has so much caked-on make-up and hair product (thus, the my-bad porn assumption) that the rugged-Alien ass-kicker the character aspires to be, is lost. (Sturges guested on several TV series; she retired in 2014.)

In addition to the Alien (sans the Xenos, natch) and The Hitcher, you’ll see a bit of The Thing (running through a dark complex contemplating ‘who is who”). What you won’t see: decent acting. What you will see: sharp, inventive set design and cinematography that isn’t exactly competing with its big-budget inspirations (but it’s pretty damn close), but it all certainly looks (way) better that the worst (and even the best) of ‘80s episodes of Battlestar Galactica. It’s just too bad the women-nauts of the Alex are more William Deering eye candy than kick-ass sexy Ripleys. (Ugh. Do not get me started on Glen Larceny’s Buck Rogers series.)

In the end: Convict 762 is for Luca Bercovici curio-seekers and Billy Drago completists only. And we expect and accept bad CGI—and poorly portrayed and scripted characters—with films like these: we do not except or accept it with A-List junk like Escape from L.A.(1996) (what were you thinking, Pam Grier?). Again, this pops on Comet from time to time, but you can watch a more convenient, free-with-ads-stream on Tubi.

* Timelock is also runs Comet from time to time (sometimes double-featured with Convict 762) and is also available on Tubi. Timelock is your basic “space prison” shenanigans romp that also pinches from Aliens and Aliens 3, as well as Peter Hyams’s Outland—and every other “peril in space” remote penal colony and terraforming colony flick of the ’80s. In fact, it all feels like it was made ten years too late (or released ten years too late), and works better in a binge-watching session alongside ’80s Alien knockoffs like Roger Corman’s Forbidden World (1982; scripted by Jim Wynorski, natch), William Malone’s Creature (1985), and Roland Emmerich’s Moon 44 (1990) than John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. (1996), which more than likely inspired its raison d’être—although ex-Bond Girl Maryam d’Ado ain’t no Ripley and the always likable Arye Gross (even when grunged up) ain’t no Plissken.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Future War (1997)

Future War was the directorial debut of Anthony Doublin, who has created special effects and miniatures for movies like Re-AnimatorBride of Re-Animator, From BeyondThe Blob remake, Scanner CopWilly’s Wonderland and more. He’d go on to make ManhaterVoodoo Dolly and Slaughtered, but his career nearly ended here, as after seeing the first rough cut, he walked away.

Even during the shooting of the movie, the crew joked that it would end up on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Well, they were right.

The Runaway (Daniel Bernhardt, Bloodsport 2-4, Bone Breaker in Logan) is a human slave kidnapped from some past time, pushed into the future and now hunted by Robert Z’Dar, Mel Novak and dinosaurs. He thinks Earth is Heaven itself, so he has that going for him, plus he knows kickboxing.

So yeah, somehow he gets to our Earth and gets involved in a street gang and a nun who used to be Angel, pretty much. The fact that I know that the actress who plays Sister Ann, Travis Brooks Stewart, was also in Bikini Hotel proves that I have watched way too many USA Up All NIght movies (she was also the art director and set dresser of that movie).

In the original ending, Sister Ann abandoned her training as a nun to join Runaway and her former gang friends to battle cyborgs. One of the film’s backers was upset by this ending, as he felt it was disrespectful to the Catholic Church. So they had to shoot an entirely new ending where Sister Ann takes her vows and Z’Dar battles the Runaway one more time and then our hero becomes a counselor for runaways, because, yeah. He’s the Runaway.

You can watch this on YouTube.

LEE MAJORS WEEK: Trojan War (1997)

Trojan War cost $15 million to make, played one theater for a week and made $309 dollars.

Yes. $309 dollars.

It’s also a movie that features Jennifer Love Hewett as the geeky friend, which seems like casting that most boys in 1997 would not agree with. It’s kind of an extended version of the condom story in Amazon Women on the Moon, as Brad (Will Friedle, Boy Meets World) is finally getting the chance to aardvark with Brooke (Marley Shelton, Planet Terror), yet she demands he get a condom, which is where the title comes from.

There are a few moments that 80’s comedy fans will like, such as a homeless man demanding two dollars and it ends up being David Patrick Kelly, who was Luther in The Warriors. Or Anthony Michael Hall not being a geek but instead being a bullying bus driver, driving the bus from Speed. Seriously. The exact same bus, which is Santa Monica bus #2525.

For those enjoying Lee Majors week on our site, he shows up as Officer Austin and ends up giving Brad a condom, which makes a bionic sound effect as the rubber sails toward our hero. His call sign is also Seven Mary Three, which fans of CHiPs will recognize.

Of course, this being a teen comedy, our hero will find the right girl and all will work out. Along the way, there are appearances by Danny Masterson, Wendie Mallick (I never miss the chance to make a Dream On reference) and, as all 90’s movies must, a cameo from Danny Trejo.

This was directed by George Huang, who put up Robert Rodriguez when he was new to Hollywood. He also directed Swimming With Sharks and How to Make a Monster.

The soundtrack to this is pretty interesting, with a mix of 90’s stuff like Letter to Cleo, Star 69, Everclear and Imperial Teen mixed with unexpected artists like Fu Manchu and Peter Murphy.

All in all, it’s not the worst teen movie comedy I’ve seen.

The Journey: Absolution (1997)

With most of Earth destroyed by an asteroid, only one small military base has survived. New America, located in the Arctic, is our last best hope of repopulating the Earth. Luckily, it’s staffed by 1990’s TV stars like Richard Grieco, Nick Spano, Jaime Pressly and most importantly, Mario Lopez.

If you’re wondering, “WIll I see Mario without a shirt in this movie?” allow me to set your mind at ease. David DeCoteau directed this. So yes, the fact that he even wears a shirt in the cold permafrost of the Arctic should amaze you.

This movie posits that a murder has happened on the base and that Lopez is there to investigate why Grieco’s character is abusing his soldiers. But really it’s about dudes just hanging and banging in their boxers or briefs while burning each other with cigars, hugging it out and sipping steroids out of a giant goblet, because look, DeCoteay has an audience and they — and he — demand such actions.

You can watch this on Tubi. There’s also a Rifftrax version which I’d watch instead of the original.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Godzilla Island (1997)

In the future of 2097,  Earth’s kaiju all live on Godzilla Island, living under constant watch from the G-Guard. Godzilla, Godzilla Junior, Rodan, Kumasogami, Jigora, American Godzilla, Dogora — who was never even in a Godzilla movie before — Fire Rodan, King Ghidorah, Mecha-King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, Mothra, Mothra Leo, Anguirus, Gigan, Hedorah, Destoroyah, Baragon, King Caesar, Moguera, Megalon, Battra, SpaceGodzilla, Gorosaurus, Kamacuras and several versions of Jet Jaguar all reside there.

This show is pretty wild, as it was filmed with Bandai’s Godzilla Island toys with effects much like Robot Chicken to make them seem alive. The stories are crazy too, all told in three-minute episodes with overarching themes.

I mean, a Godzilla show that has The Edge from U2 doing music? It’s pretty out there.

The 22 stories of the show start with the Xiliens bringing Space Godzilla to Godzilla Island before battles ensue with Mecha-King Ghidorah, Godzilla being hypnotized by Space Godzilla, a Neo-Hedorah showing up and a Fire Fighter and Medic Jet Jaguar making appearances.

If you like Gigan, good news. He becomes a good guy over this series. And there’s a new monster named Gororin who is basically a cactus.

While this has never been released in the U.S. and Toho often pulls down any links, some brave folks have made an English dub and posted it on the Internet Archive. It’s silly, but a lot of fun, obviously made by people with a great love for all things kaiju.

 

Mommy’s Day (1997)

This movie starts right where the original ended, with former The Bad Seed Patty McCormack’s character Mrs. Sterling about to be executed by lethal injection for the murders in the first movie.

For some reason, her sister Beth (Brinke Stevens) has brought Mommy’s daughter to watch her die, as well as her attorney (Mickey Spillane!). Mommy is granted last rites and uses that to escape before being shot and wounded by her nemesis Lt. March (now played by Arlen Dean Snyder instead of Jason Miller) who has a stroke before he can finish her off.

For some reason — or we wouldn’t have a movie — Mrs. Sterling doesn’t go back on Death Row. Instead, her psychiatrist makes a crazy deal with the state. She’ll live as long as she undergoes a radical surgery where anti-psychotic medicine will be automatically be released into her body through a device implanted in her hand.

Sure! I mean, why not!

Everyone who crosses Mrs. Sterling as she tries to reconnect with her daughter gets horribly murdered, which we’re led to believe is all her doing. Or is it? There’s also the matter of her sister getting married to Paul Conway (Paul Petersen from The Donna Reed Show), the man who wrote The Mommy Murders, a book all about the first movie’s events.

By the end of the movie, rest assured, Mrs. Sterling is back to her old ways but strangely enough as the heroine of this story.

McCormack, Rachel Lemieux, Brinke Stevens, Marian Wald and Spillane all play the same characters as in the original film, while Sarah Jane Miller returns as the twin sister of the character that Mommy killed in the original movie. Shot in Iowa all over again, this movie even has a real TV show — Paula Sands Live — and takes advantage of Lemieux’s ice skating interest as part of her character.

The last shot of the movie, with Stevens looking like she’s about to kill everyone — was to set up a third film where she would try to do pretty much that while being opposed by a now heroic Mrs. Sterling.

Both of the Mommy films are available from VCI.