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 BERMUDA TRIANGLE

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bermuda triangle, theSunn Classic Pictures
1978
NR

The passengers and crew of a boat on a summer cruise in the Caribbean stray near the famed Bermuda Triangle, and mysterious things start happening.

Ah, the Bermuda Triangle. A classic in the pantheon of supposedly haunted mystery spots on this big world of ours. You’ve heard the legends, of ships and aircraft disappearing mysteriously in this stretch of ocean between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the southern-most tip of Florida. Paranormal enthusiasts have tried to explain things as supernatural something-or-other, alien abductions, or Atlantians annoyed with us surface dwellers. Of course, pop culture has been rather helpful in spreading the mythology and pseudoscience; one of which is the topic of discussion in today’s review, the 1978 Italian/Mexican joint flick The Bermuda Triangle.

Also released under the titles The Secrets Of The Bermuda Triangle and Devil’s Triangle Of Bermuda, The Bermuda Triangle stars writer/director/actor John Huston, a man known throughout his career as the writer and director of genre classics, including the likes of The Maltese Falcon, The Asphalt Jungle, and The African Queen. The rest of the cast is…inconsequential, really.

The plot of The Bermuda Triangle itself, well…if you know your Twilight Zone, you can probably guess the plot, as well as the big twist ending. That part, I don’t mind. No, what makes this movie a chore to get through, it’s the bloody annoying and unlikable characters. Not the choppy editing, not the really bad English dubbing, not even the way it seems to take forever to get to the point. That’s all just rancid icing on this already rancid cake. No, from the get-go, the characters and their interactions and mannerisms make you want to punch them individually, every single time they come on screen. Especially that brat of a kid. To say nothing of the blatant misogyny of the lead character, always verbally ripping apart his wife in front of everybody at the drop of a hat. Then your intelligence is insulted by suggesting that the doll they find floating on the ocean is somehow causing all the weirdness and murder, which leads you to be rather glad that they’re all stuck in a hell of their own making, reliving their doomed voyage in a continuous loop with no hope of respite for all eternity.

What do you mean, “Spoilers”? I just saved you the pain of having to watch this yourself. From here on out, if you do watch The Bermuda Triangle, it’s on you. You’ve been warned. Stay away. Stay away.

Movie Review: SILENT RAGE

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silent rageColumbia Pictures
1982
R

“I don’t care if he killed one hundred people. We are scientists, not moralists.”

He’s an indestructible man fused with powers beyond comprehension. An unstoppable terror who in one final showdown will push Chuck Norris to his limits, and beyond. A mentally ill man in a small Texas town goes on a killing rampage and is fatally wounded by police. When doctors use an experimental serum to bring him back to life, the killer develops superhuman strength and the town sherriff must pursue him.

Here’s a Fun Fact that will probably have certain people (you know who you are) question everything they thought they knew about their Uncle NecRo: I’m not a fan of Chuck Norris. He’s never piqued my interest as much as Schwarzenegger, or Stallone has, as far as 80s-era classic action movie stars go. If anything, I’m really more interested in Chuck Norris as a meme generator than a movie and television star.

So, you can imagine how bored/doped up I was, back when I was recouping after amputation surgery, when I decided to give Norris’ 1982 flick Silent Rage a watch. You see, the description on the streaming site I watched this on made this movie sound like he was going up against a zombie. Any crappy action movie can be made better with the inclusion of a zombie. They’re like the peanut butter of the B-movie world.

Well, I was a bit off. This wasn’t so much a zombie he goes up against, as it is a kind of Frankenstein’s monster. If even that. You see, the body of the serial killer guy Norris’s Texas lawman is pitted against is on the verge of death when a scientist pumps him full of an experimental chemical and brings him back with SCIENCE! This only turns him into a rage-filled killer, and of course he escapes and the wackiness does ensue.

Silent Rage is mindless drivel. No pun intended, there. The acting is about as wooden as it gets, Chuck Norris has the charisma of a practice dummy, and certain scenes were obviously shoehorned in to both pad out the running time, and to showcase Norris’ martial arts fighting skizzles. This is definitely a movie that could have benefited from a zombie apocalypse subplot. Maybe if you pretend this is a prequel to his Walker: Texas Ranger series, you might get some enjoyment out of this. Even on all of those painkillers, the only “silent rage” that was experienced was what I felt when this movie ended. Hard pass.

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 arrived 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: The DARKEST MINDS

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darkest minds20th Century Fox
2018
PG-13

When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby, one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking a safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and thy must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.

So, back in April of 2018, we were supposed to have an X-Men spinoff movie, one that wasn’t necessarily tied into th franchise proper, but promised to be more of a horror movie with its story of mutant children being terrorized by the normies. I couldn’t wait to see this movie. But then, news came that the studio decided to pull that movie and push it for over a year later, because…reasons. Whatever, no X-Men horror movie. So, instead of that movie, that same year we got a movie that has nothing to do with the X-Men franchise, but is totally an X-Men story: The Darkest Minds.

Or, more to the point, X-Men Lite. If you want to be kind of jaded about it. For a more, shall we say, optimistic spin, this would be X-Men for th modern YA crowd. Meaning, we have a story here that requires very little investment in thinking about, stock characters we’ve seen before in other YA sci-fi action movies like this, plot beats you could see coming from low space orbit…but, despite all that, I did find myself enjoying this on a certain level.

Keeping in mind that I probably wasn’t the target demographic The Darkest Minds was aiming for, I realize that this could have been far more worse than what we ended up with. The Darkest Minds is a decent movie; it did keep my attention, the effects were pretty good, and the way it was shot was gorgeous.

Overall, The Darkest Minds is what it is: A movie about teenagers with powers going up against adults who misunderstand and fear them. There might be a hamfisted metaphor there, I think. Anyway, not a bad way to kill some time on a rainy afternoon. One and done viewing, for me.

Movie Review: STARCRASH

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starcrashNew World Pictures
1979
PG

“For the space of three minutes, every molecule on this planet will be immobilized. But after the third minute, the green ray loses its power. Time will flow once more and everything will explode.”

In the deep space of the Second Galaxy the best navigator and pilot of the entire interstellar system–Stella Star and Akton–are arrested for smuggling, despite thrusting themselves into hyperspace. Stella escapes only to learn that she and her companion have been chosen by the Emperor of the First Circle to find his son who has been savagely attacked by Zarth Arn. the most important enemy of peace, Arn, is a despot belonging to the League of the Obscure People. Together with Thor, a ‘greenish’ policeman and Elias, a robot, Stella Star and Akton set off on their mission. Stella and the Robot are stranded and left to die on a frozen sphere by Thor, the policeman, who has revealed himself as a traitor in the pay of Zarth Arn. Just in time and thanks to Akton’s fantastic powers Thor is eliminated and the two rescued. Later, the group is attacked by the Troglodytes who’kill’ the robot, Elias. A handsome young man rescues our heroes who now realize that they have accidentally found the entrance to Arn’s fortress. The young man turns out to be Simon, the Emperor’s son. Zarth Arn arrive and Akton sacrifices his life in a laser-sword confrontation with the “Golems”, Arn’s miniature robots. The group escape and plan the final end of Zarth Arn. this requires a stellar clash and using the Fourth Dimension the flying city of the Emperor is hurled against the citadel of Zarth Arn to bring the final dazzling victory.

This movie. This movie, right here. In the list of space fantasy / space westerns / space operas that were produced in the wake of the massive success that was Star Wars back in 1977, Starcrash was one of the more elusive titles for me, and probably one of the more enticing, simply by the fact that it co-stared a young soon-to-be 80s icon / singing sensation (in Germany) David Hasselhoff. The idea of The Hoff wielding a lightsaber laser sword was enough for me to try and track down this turkey. And, as luck would have it, Starcrash became one of the movies available for streaming on my service. We truly do live in a golden age, people.

For obvious reasons, the first thing to come to mind here would be Star Wars Rip-Off. And the similarities to the story are rather uncanny; although, the director had gone on record in interviews stating that development for his movie happened long before the release of Star Wars. Okay, sure. Why not? I mean, it’s not like anybody else tried to capitalize on the film (*cough* Disney’s The Black Hole *cough*). But, let’s not focus on that. What’s the movie like? Hoo, boy…

Starcrash is what one would call a glorious mess. If it is, in fact, a Star Wars knock-off, it’s like someone tried to copy the Mona Lisa using crayons. And not the good Crayola crayons, either; Rose Art or whatever they sell at the Everything’s A Buck stores. The story is rooted squarely within the pulp tradition, having an earnest cheeseball quality not unlike the Flash Gordon serials of yesteryear. Everything about this movie is gloriously cheesy, from the sets, costumes and effects, to the acting quality, to the very way that I found myself muttering “that’s not how space science works” more times than I’m comfortable admitting.

In other words, Starcrash is a gloriously cheesy space western fantasy that needs to be seen to be believed. Again, the inclusion of The Hoff is worth the figurative price of admission alone. An enthusiastic recommendation for Bad Movie Night.

Uncle NecRo Watches: HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

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happy death day 2u banner

Uncle NecRo is joined by Brian from the Will Code For Beer pubcast in watching the sequel to Happy Death Day, HAPPY DEATH DAY 2 U. Did he loath it as much as the first one? Did the movie actually pull off the impossible and made him like it? It’s…complicated. Let’s just say that, this is the first Uncle NecRo Watches that made him get a beer for the pubcast…

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