Thunder (1983)

Thunder (1983)- * * *

Directed by: Fabrizio De Angelis

Starring: Mark Gregory, Raimund Harmstorf, Paolo Malco, and Bo Svenson

"Thunder will never die!!!"-Kid Running Away

Thunder (Gregory) is a mild-mannered Native American minding his own business and just trying to live his life in Page, Arizona. That is, until a crew of construction workers attempt to bulldoze an ancient Navajo burial site. He goes to the local police station, but Sheriff Bill Cook (Svenson) is no help, and his crew of angry, racist deputies, led by Barry Henson (Harmstorf) only seem to want to harass and torment Thunder. 

After yet another gang of redneck attackers assaults Thunder, he finally snaps – into action, that is. Armed with a bow and arrow, a bazooka, and several bits of stolen construction equipment, Thunder gets in touch with his warrior roots and goes to war with the entire town! Luckily, on his side is the local DJ, who sends out encouraging messages, and a reporter named Brian Sherman (Malco) also gets behind Thunder’s mission. What will be left in the wreckage after THUNDER rolls in?

Here we have the first entry in the Thunder trilogy, all of which are directed by Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman of course), and starring Mark Gregory, AKA Marco Di Gregorio. As has been noted before, Thunder is very closely modeled after First Blood (1982), down to the veritable re-creation of certain scenes. That doesn’t detract from its appeal, however. In fact, it only adds to it. Thunder boasts some fantastic location scenery, fights, car chases, and blow-ups. It’s all set to a typically-great Francesco De Masi score and has some familiar B-Movie names we all know and love (though, to be fair, there should have been just a bit more Bo Svenson). 

We really don’t want to repeat what we said in our reviews for the other Thunder movies, especially part two, because much of that could apply here as well. A lot of the same stuff happens in all three movies in the trilogy. For example, the local redneck population call Thunder a barrage of racial slurs, including “redskin” many, many times. The fact that Thunder is played by Marco Di Gregorio, who was born in Rome and is about as Native American as Pope John Paul II, is very amusing. 

The grandfather in the Thunder family steals the movie, or maybe it’s just his dubbing. But we really enjoyed every scene this elderly gentleman was in, and the final third is a satisfying destruction spree you can’t help but love. If you really do love it, you can watch it two more times in the sequels. Everything catches fire (literally) when Thunder hits his Breaking Point – not unlike Bo Svenson himself in the 1976 film of that name. 

Thunder is B-Movie action fun as only the Italians can serve it up. It was perfect for the video stores of the day (even if, let’s be fair, the minimal plot of the deputies chasing Thunder for almost the entire running time does wear a bit thin after a while). But it all ends on an encouraging note with a memorable final line. As an example of classic Rambosploitation, it’s hard to do much better than Thunder.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Danger Zone III: Steel Horse War (1990)

Danger Zone III: Steel Horse War (1990)- * *1\2

Directed by: Douglas Bronco

Starring: Jason Williams, Robert Random, Barne Wms Subkoski, and Juanita Ranney

Reaper (Random) is an evil outlaw biker who is assembling an army of his fellow “bikies” (as they’re called in Australia, we believe) in a trek around the deserts of Trona, California. 

It seems there is a cache of buried gold that was put there by some confederate soldiers back during the Civil War, and Reaper is out to find it. He wants to use the gold to fund an all-biker city where he is king. He’s causing murder and mayhem along the way, but he’s finally met his match in Wade Olsen (Williams), a former cop and “good” biker who wants to end Reaper’s reign of terror. Teaming up with man of mysticism Rainmaker (Subkoski) and female bike-ette Skin (Ranney), Olsen is hot on Reaper’s trail as he and his biker buddies harass models on a photo shoot, female student archaeologists, and other hapless victims. Who will come out victorious in the STEEL HORSE WAR?

We’ve been trying to figure out why the movie The Danger Zone (1987) has not one, but TWO sequels. Our guess: The late 80’s and early 90’s were a boom time for video stores and DTV, and evidently customers hungered for more of their favorite characters. Which, in this case of course, are Wade Olsen (spelled as Olson in the prior two Danger Zone movies, for those keeping track of Danger Zone minutiae at home), Reaper, and Skin, who appeared in the other outings.

This installment in the trilogy features plenty of pudgy and/or overweight bikers. Tattoos, whippings, and a classic prison transport gone wrong (do they ever go right?) are also on show, as is one of the most brain-cell-depleting fights we’ve seen in some time (the one at the gas station). Wade Olson even has his own “Q” in the style of James Bond, a guy that gives him a panoply of nifty gadgets he can use in his biker war. We appreciated that sort of ingenuity. 

We would say that Olson’s sidekick Rainmaker is a dead ringer for Kenny Rogers, but that’s too easy. Let’s just say he’s a dead ringer for Frederick Offrein, the Swedish man that we know from all the Mats Helge movies. You know, the guy who we lovingly refer to as “The Kenny Rogers Guy”. 

The three Danger Zone movies were each directed by a different person. Intriguingly, for each of the three men (Henry Vernon, Geoffrey Bowers, and Douglas Bronco, respectively) their go in the director’s chair for their Danger Zone movie was their one and only credit. Literally nothing else exists for any of the three men. No acting credits, no second unit, no best boy grip, nothing. Just Danger Zone for all three. It’s one of the mysteries of life, I tell ya.

What Bronco did for his turn was give the whole thing a wraparound where an elementary school kid is reading a comic book called Steel Horse War that is the action of the movie, almost in a Creepshow (1982) style. A lot of the goings-on are a bit violent to be in a kids’ comic book (though there is no real nudity, it gets close). The little kid gets to see a “white power camp” that we know is a “white power camp” because the words “white power camp” are spray-painted on a bedsheet. Pretty intimidating stuff, especially for a young tot. 

For the most part, it’s all done pretty competently (with the possible exception of the dubbing, which adds an amusing layer for the viewers all on its own). You probably won’t be bored, and it’s entertaining enough. Danger Zone III: Steel Horse War is perfectly fine for what it is, but it must be said that we missed The Skirts.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty