Movie Review: DEADLY PREY

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deadly preyAction International Pictures

“I like being on the winning side. It’s a lot healthier.”

Recently, while house- and pet-sitting for my sister’s family, I decided to spend my holiday binging on as many bad action, horror and sci-fi movies from the 1980s as my brain could handle. I really don’t recommend doing this for any novice reading this; I am a well-seasoned, professionally trained idiot, after all.

One of the cluster of free-to-stream movies was Deadly Prey, an obscure low-budget action flick from 1987 that I chose solely by that poster art. I mean, look at it. Those rippling mussels, those cut-off shorts that can barely contain anything, and that sweet, sweet mullet. That had “cheese-fest plastered all over it. And boy, oh boy, Deadly Prey did not disappoint in that arena.

Apparently one of the first movies produced by low-budget movie house Action International Pictures, Deadly Prey really hits all the points that make for some prime cheesy movie watchin’ enjoyment. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, here…

The sadistic and psychopathic Colonel Hogan is a mercenary for hire who finds a benefactor in Don Michaelson, a ruthless businessman in need of skilled killers for a special assignment. It’s a win-win for both sides. Michaelson will finance Hogan’s training camp and Hogan will use his trained mercenaries to help out Michaelson. Hogan has the manpower. What he doesn’t have is the prey to hunt in preparation for the big day. His solution: troll the streets of Los Angeles and randomly abduct people. What Hogan didn’t count on was that one of those people would be Mike Danton, a Marine with killer skills, who doesn’t take too kindly to being kidnapped. Hogan, Michaelson and the mercenaries are in for a world of pain…

Where do I begin with this movie? The late-80s mullets and fashions? All the action posing? The fact that Ted Prior (who plays protagonist Mike Danton) spends the majority of the movie clad in only a pair of barely contained cutoff denim shorts? And I haven’t gotten to the derivative script, the shoestring effects, the “acting” and confusing pacing issues.

Which is to say, Deadly Prey is awesomely bad and should be watched by everyone. Preferably in a group with lots of libations and sarcasm.

Movie Review: SAMURAI COP

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samurai copCinema Epoch

“Why did you go under?”
“Because I’m an undercover cop.”

In case you’re wondering, yes…it was the title of this movie alone that sunk its hooks into me and made me watch this exercise in bad cinema. Fortunately, the level of cheeseball this manages to attain is amazing.

The Katana Gang is out of control in Los Angeles. They’re involved in everything from gambling and extortion to drugs. They’ve bullied their way to the top of the underworld through their unmatched brutality. The police are stymied in their efforts to take the Japanese mob down. The Yakuza’s code of silence is unbreakable and the police can’t bring any charges against them. So they’ve brought in an expert. Joe Marshal, nicknamed “The Samurai”, is an expert in Japanese culture and martial arts and if it takes a blood drenched street brawl to bring the mobsters to their knees, then Samurai Joe is ready to RUMBLE!

Samurai Cop is, in a word, amazeballs. It tries to be a Lethal Weapon-style buddy cop movie with a martial arts angle — predating Rush Hour by seven years. But, by shear incompetence and unintentional hilarity levels alone, Samurai Cop manages to become that kind of action movie that’s entertaining for all the wrong reasons. From the bug-eyed overacting from the lead actor, to the groan-worthy dialogue, to the hilarious martial arts action scenes, and using a wig at one point due to miscommunication with the lead actor…Samurai Cop must be seen to be believed. This is truly a So Bad It’s Good gem, people.

Movie Review: The DARK TAPES

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dark tapes, theEpic Pictures Group

Oh, hey, look: a found footage anthology movie. On the Amazon Prime streaming. Who’da thunk it? Well, I chose to watch this due to the cover art itself, so let’s get this review over with.

If you’re new to this blog of mine, you may have noticed that I have kind of a low expectation upon found footage movies. I watch ’em because sometimes I’ve been surprised before, like with the V/H/S series, or with the first Cloverfield movie. But more often than not, they’ve turned out to be formulaic and stale, mostly involving invisible ghosts and such, always at some haunted location. Or family curse. I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity series. I do very much enjoy the anthology style of horror movie, so at least there’s that going for The Dark Tapes. So, does this anthology flick stand up, or does it fall flat? Let’s see…

The first segment is kind of the wrap-around short, the one that is shown in segments between the segments, acting as a lose glue to hold the films together. It’s called “To Catch A Demon”, and starts kind of weak, but then gets a bit more interesting as the segments go on. It does have a Lovecraftian sci-fi feel to it, and works on a certain level, with the low point being when the trans-dimensional creature speaks. Kind of unintentionally funny, there. Anyway, the first proper short is “The Hunters And The Hunted”, which comes off as a cheap Ghost Hunters/Paranormal Activity knock-off, for the most part losing me in the “been there, done that” feeling, when suddenly there’s a twist at the end that made me nod and smile in approval. Good save, there. Up next was “Cam Girls”, and is pretty much the weakest short in this, more or less an excuse in girl-on-girl titillation and gore, all on web cams. The end “twist” is the biggest middle finger to those watching. I do give them props for not featuring any nudity in this one, just letting the story stand on its on unmitigated suckiness. And finally, “Amanda’s Revenge” centers on the titular young lady who finds herself constantly visited and tormented by otherworldly beings, frightened at first but then figuring out a way to turn the tables and chase away these ETs for good.

Overall, there’s a lot of really good ideas featured here in The Dark Tapes that suffer greatly from the execution. The strongest point here, I thought, was the wrap-around “To Catch A Demon”, which reminds me of the Lovecraft story “From Beyond”. Second best is “Amanda’s Revenge”, with “The Hunters And The Hunted” saved from a strong ending but still doesn’t justify the weak first part. “Cam Girls” is just pointless. The low-budget effects can be off-putting at times, as well as some of the acting.

In the end, The Dark Tapes doesn’t do anything to justify the continued production of found footage movies, other than they’re cheep to crank out and make money on. Check out the three V/H/S anthologies for a much better example of doing the style right.