Movie Review: The DARK POWER

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dark power, theNew Visions Productions, LTD
1985
NR

“Feel my whip, you son of a bitch!”

The Dark Power was the first movie that Western movie legend and bullwhip enthusiast Lash LaRue did with low-budget movie maker Phil Smoot. The second one was, of course, Alien Outlaw, which I reviewed first due simply to having watched that movie first.

Lo and behold, The Dark Power was available for free streamin’. So, let’s see what we have, shall we?

A group of unsuspecting college coeds move into the house on Totem Hill, a cursed place where four Tolee Sorcerers buried themselves hundreds of years ago…alive! On the coming of the Evil Days, the ancient demons arise to feed on the living. Now, only one old Ranger with a whip–fashioned out of materials from the four quarters of the world–stands between the girls and the mystical zombies from the past.

Well, at least I can’t complain that Lash LaRue never used his whip skills to good effect. And by that, I mean the script utilizes every excuse for him to use said whip, whether it made logical sense for the story or not. This is something covered by it being described as a mystical whip, having been given to him by the Native Americans of Non Descript. Because Native Americans are MAGIC! don’t’cha know. Which comes in handy, as he’s going up against Native American zombies!

Yeah, The Dark Power is a pugnant cheeseball of a low-budget flick. The plot plays fast and lose with piecemeal Native American lore. Or just makes it up as they go. The acting is unintentionally hilarious, and the parts that were supposed to be funny fell flat at best, and made me cringe at worst. And the zombies…my my my, the zombies. Not the worst makeup costume effects I’ve seen, but still rather goofy.

Overall, The Dark Power isn’t’ as much as a “so-bad-it’s-good” movie as Alien Outlaw was. Still, there’s some prime riffing material here, and you and your friends might have more fun than intended with this.

Movie Review: ALIEN OUTLAW

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alien outlawVCI Entertainment
1985
NR

Y’know, I can’t say I hadn’t heard of western legend Lash LaRue had it not been for the two movies from the 1980s featuring the aging star that Rifftrax did so far. those would be The Dark Power, and this movie here, Alien Outlaw. I believe I may have become a fan of LaRue just by these bad movies alone.

Going by his IMDB page, LaRue made a name staring in a bunch of B-movie westerns whose trademark weapon was a bullwhip. His glory period was in the 1940s and 50s, with some in the 60s and 70s. In the 1980s, he co-stared in the two Phil Smoot-directed movies I mentioned, for whatever reason. And today we look into one of the more bizzare of the two. How bizzare, you ask? Read on, my tender kindersnizel

A handful of cowboys, a cowgirl, a fisherman, a man in overalls, and some country folk fend off an interstellar attack in this Sci-Fi Western hybrid set in the Blue ridge Mountains. A squad of menacing-looking aliens land in a rural North Carolina mountain community, and they set out to terrorize the humans they encounter; however, a small band of spunky locals are determined to stop the space creatures with a little help from an old cowhand who has a way with the whip but never uses one and a skimpily-dressed sharpshooter.

The first thought that probably goes through anyone’s mind when first encountering Alien Outlaw is, “This is a rip-off of Predator.” Fair enough…except, that Alien Outlaw was released in 1985, whereas Predator was released in 1987. Was Alien Outlaw an inspiration for the far superior Sci-Fi Action classic Predator? I have no idea. But, the story of aliens in kooky slapped-together armor costumes killing humans at random and then getting bested by one of their prey just seems too on-the-nose, if you ask me. But, whatever.

As a movie, Alien Outlaw is gloriously cheesy, in the so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. It’s ultra low-budget, with the acting, effects, and action quality reflecting this. This was lead actress Kari Anderson’s only acting credit; before this, she was employed as a fitness instructor, and after playing traveling sharpshooter entertainer Jesse Jamison in Alien Outlaw, she went on to be a Hollywood makeup artist, working on such shows as The Flash (the recent one, not the on in the 90s) and the Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina. When watching here in this movie…yeah, she made the right career choice, methinks. And given the outfit she wears for most of the run-time, I’m guessing she wasn’t hired for her acting chops, if you get my meaning. And as far as Lash LaRue goes, his claim to fame was wasted. He never picked up a whip, unlike in The Dark Power. We do get a glimpse of him in his skivvies, though, so if you decide to watch this, have some bleach handy for the eyeballs. It’s truly one of those “You need to iron your clothes…oh, wait, you’re naked…” kind of moments.

Overall, I would urge you to watch Alien Outlaw…but only as either the classic MST3K episode, or the more recent Rifftrax edition, to take some of the cringe-worthy edge off.