Movie Review: LASER MISSION

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laser missionTurner home Entertainment
1989
R

“You are fond of birds.

Mercenary Michael Gold is sent from the CIA to seize the laser expert Braun in Cuba before the KGB catches him. A recently stolen giant diamond could be used together with Braun’s knowledge to construct a laser cannon which could bring power over the whole world. Who will succeed: CIA or KGB–or none of them?

Brandon Lee is probably best known as the famed actor son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who died tragically from an on-set accident while filming 1994’s The Crow. That movie was reportedly going to be the start of bigger lead roles for the actor, who, up to then, starred in a bunch of low-budget action movies. Like this one, Laser Mission.

Released direct-to-video in 1989, Laser Mission is only half right with the title, as it does feature a mission–Lee’s mercenary character needing to find and get Ernest Borgnine with a bad accent before the godless Commies do, to stop the building of a weapon of mass destruction–but disappointingly, there are no lasers. Well, there’s a laser-guided motion detector…but, co’mon. Show me someone who wasn’t expecting the *pew-pew* kind of lasers when seeing the movie’s title, and I’ll show you someone who’s lying. Not even the movie’s theme song bothered with either the words “laser” or “mission”. Nope, it’s a song called “Mercenary Man”, played ad-nausium throughout the runtime.

Anyway, what we actually got is a bunch of walking around in a desert while he bickers with Dr. Braun’s daughter, interspersed with action scenes to showcase Lee’s martial arts skills, as well as more bickering with Dr. Braun’s daughter. All that bickering, it’s no surprise that they end up falling for each other near the end of the flick. Because them’s the rules of action movie romances. At least the movie ends with the bad guy getting hit by a truck. So it’s not entirely a loss, really.

What really saves Laser Mission from being completely horrible is Lee’s acting. He seems to know this is going to be a stinker, and he really chews the scenes, having fun with the role. Otherwise, the cheesiness is pretty high with this movie. Make sure you have any cinematic lactose intolerance in check before heading into this Laser-less Mission.

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Movie Review: The GALAXY INVADER

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galaxy invaderMoviecraft Entertainment
1985
PG

“What’s dad gonna go huntin’ for, mom?”
“Let’s play Scrabble!”
“I hate that game.”

A drunken redneck encounters a newly arrivedĀ visitor from space while wandering in the woods. He recruits a whole gang of rednecks from the local pool hall, and they charge off into the woods to capture the creature. A college professor and one of his students are the only ones sympathetic to the plight of the Galaxy Invader, and they must match wits, if that is the word, with this army of backwoods slobs in order to keep the alien from being taken prisoner.

One of my favorite episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 was the Pod People episode. If you haven’t seen that particular classic, stop reading this now and go watch it. Go ahead, I can wait.

Finished? Good. Now, you may have noticed at the beginning and end credits of the movie itself, there were clips of a movie that had nothing to do with the actual movie itself. For years, I kept trying to find that particular movie, if it did indeed exist. Well, it does. It’s called The Galaxy Invader, and hoo boy, am I glad I found this.

An obscure low-budget direct-to-video sci-fi flick it’s easy to see how this escaped my attention back in the day. I don’t recall ever seeing it at the Applause Video where my family rented our movies (it would be another 10 years before Fremont would get an actual Blockbuster); I certainly never saw a copy for sale at any of the department stores. Just as well; something tells me I wouldn’t have appreciated such a momentous cheeseball like I do now.

Wow, where to begin with this movie? How about the main antagonist, the redneck Dad who’s always drinking, yelling at everybody for no apparent reason, threatening violence against his family at the very slightest provocation, all the while wearing a dirty white t shirt with a giant hole torn in the middle of it. Classy. Or how about the unintentionally hilarious dialogue, like the exchanged I decided to use as the quote up top of this review? Yeah, I had to pause the movie to let sink in that I just heard that exchange. Or the slapdash nature of the plot. Or, perhaps the alien costume that seems to be a cast-off reject from the Creature From The Black Lagoon set. The dime store special effects. Or that ending that really wants to get the feels out of you, but just ends up cheesy.

Whichever way you slice it, Galaxy Invader is amazingly bad, the kind of movie that you really want to watch with several of your friends just to take the brunt of the intensity of the cheese factor. If you do, you might want to get sufficient amounts of adult beverages and/or pain killers. Also, watch this on the RiffTrax edition to lessen the pain.

Movie Review: HELLRAISER: Judgment

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hellraiser judgmentLionsgate
2018
NR

“This new millennium hurtles forward. Faith is lost. Mankind have become a vacuum without morality. So many souls seeking new and darker experiences. Degradation upon degradation, sin after sin.”

So, at this point in the game, should anyone who has been a fan of the Hellraiser movies even care at this point? The track record since going the direct-to-video rout back in 2000 with the release of Hellraiser: Inferno hasn’t been that great. There’s been maybe a couple of decent ones, but so far they’re underwhelming at best. Then Hellraiser: Revelations fell with such a loud splat, I figured that was it. Even if they did make another Hellraiser movie, it would just be going through the motions.

Then news of another Hellraiser movie started circulating. At first, there was talk of a reboot, but then that fell through. So, we got yet another direct-to-video original movie sequel, subtitled Judgment. And so, because I can’t not watch the sequel, it was with a resigned sigh that I pressed play and settled down, expectations at an all-time low.

So, how was Hellraiser: Judgment? Surprisingly decent, actually.

After a brief yet rather memorable bit featuring a new kind of Cenobite called The Auditor, we follow a couple of detectives following a case involving a grizzly serial killer dubbed the Preceptor. The detectives are brothers, Sean and David, who are joined up with a third detective, Christine to help with the investigation into The Preceptor, who apparently bases his murders on the Ten Commandments. Following up a lead that takes him to the house from the first part of the movie, Sean finds himself being questioned by The Auditor, who then leaves him to be judged by the Stygian Inquisition, when an angel intervenes to have him released. Sean escapes this Hell dimension with one of the iconic puzzle boxes, and after getting David, they both go back to the house to find that nothing is amiss, certainly no portal to hell or anything. That night Sean is tormented by nightmarish visions of the Cenobites and goes back to drinking. Later, Sean and Christine discover the cell phone of one of the Preceptor’s victims, which lead them to his hideout, where it’s learned that Sean is actually The Perceptor, when he incapacitates Christine, then abducts his brother and his wife. Seems the two were conducting an affair behind Sean’s back, so he makes the two open the Lament Configuration box, summoning the Cenobites to take them. Pinhead shows up and let’s Sean know that he’s basically screwed despite his attempts at bargaining with his brother and wife’s souls; the Auditor tries to take Sean back because he was judged guilty for his sins, but then the angel comes back to say “NAY” to that noise, because Sean is apparently part of heaven’s plan to instill fear into sinners. Then Pinhead rips apart the angel with his chains n’ hooks, to which he’s then banished from hell to walk the earth as a mortal man. Wait then to the end credits for an hilarious scene featuring The Auditor and a couple of Mormon missionaries. The end.

To begin, yes, I admit that Hellraiser: Judgment is another re-purposed script to get a quick movie out before losing the rights to the franchise. One might be jaded enough to say that Hellraiser: Revelations is more of an original Hellraiser movie than this one because of that. However, despite its many flaws sporting the Hellraiser re-purposing, Judgment was far more watchable than was the previous movie. I found The Auditor to be enjoyable as a character, and I wouldn’t mind having him incorporated in future stories. Pinhead, however, seems once again to be wasted potential. I miss Doug Bradley, really, and while Paul T. Taylor was passable, he lacks the charisma that made the character so legendary, even when he was regulated to showing up near the end to do his job in the later films. I also couldn’t help but feel Pinhead’s fate was cribbed from the second Prophecy movie and Gabriel’s fate.

While the mystery surrounding the serial killer was standard and predictable, still it worked on a certain level, with the best parts involving the house and The Auditor. Making this into more of a House Of Mystery type adaptation instead of a Hellraiser movie might have been a better bet. But, if you can look past the shoehorning of the story into a Hellraiser flick, Judgment was still a far better movie than some of the previous in the series. Worth a look, at least.

Movie Review: DEAD WEST

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dead westRLJ Entertainment
2017
NR

A charismatic serial killer embarks on a murderous cross-country road trip in search of true love. Along the way he meets and kills several women whom he deems unworthy, eluding capture from the authorities by moving from one town to the next. When the brother of one of his victims decides to track the killer down to get vigilante justice, a revenge-fueled chase ensues. Along the way, the killer finally meets the girl of his dreams; but will they live happily ever after?

This is the third movie that I picked out going strictly by the cover art itself (the others being Abattoir and Candiland, in case you’ve clicked on this one first), and the one of the three I completely regret renting. I mean, judging solely by the cover art above, you can understand why I was expecting something in line with a horror western hybrid. Look at it. The skull on the cowboy hat. The fact that the movie is titled Dead West. I was hoping for some fun undead wild west wackiness. Instead, not only did I discover that the cover itself is several shades of misleading, but the title itself is as big of a lie as is the promise of cake.

So, apparently Dead West originally had the working title of Lady Killer, but was changed to Dead West because reasons. It would have been logical to leave it with the title that would have made more sense to the plot, but whatever. My grievances run deeper than the title and DVD artwork, though (I do wish to get the fact that, at no time during the movie, does the main character wear a hat, let alone one with a skull on the front, out of the way before proceeding).

What we have here is a kind of low-budget neo-grindhouse flick about a serial killer who favors the classic 50s look of leather jacket, white t-shirt and blue jeans, slicked back hair and traveling around this great country of ours in a muscle car with rock n’ roll cranking out of the stereo. He’s on a road trip to find the perfect girl. And he figures he’ll find ’em in the seedy bars in the small towns in the American south. And every time he discovers the perfect girl in fact has a flaw he deems unworthy (usually smoking, or having a less than virtuous reputation, or something he’s surprised to find at a roadhouse bar, those bastions of family values and all that) he kills them with his pocket knife and dumps the bodies. Somehow, he’s able to not get a drop of blood or anything onto himself–let along that pristine white t-shirt of his–in the process. He’s being pursued by the brother of one of his victims, each stop they make bringing him closer to confronting the slayer to get his revenge…which happens around the middle of the film, to which the Serial Killer wins and spends the rest of the movie’s running time meeting and talking a lot with a former call girl, to which he falls in love with, takes out her former pimp that goes by the name Sug White (gads), where they then get married by an Elvis impersonator…and he kills her on their wedding night. The end.

As you can probably imagine, Dead West was quite the slog to sit through. The setup is decent enough…only that’s pretty much dashed when you get around to the acting itself. Yes, it’s what you would expect for an ultra-low budget movie of this sort. The biggest insult is when you realize that this movie is attempting to be a much deeper movie than what it is, and is failing miserably.

Dead West sucks. It’s forgetable, and a complete waste of your time. Pass on this one.