12/30/2011

White Ghost (1988)

White Ghost (1988)-* * *

Directed by: BJ Davis

Starring: William Katt, Rosalind Chao, Wayne Crawford, John Barrett, and Reb Brown












Steve Shepard (Katt) was a soldier in Vietnam. But after all his fellow soldiers went home, Shepard stayed behind. He developed a life for himself in the jungle, and even got a Vietnamese wife (Chao), who now is pregnant with their child. But, to the locals in rural 'Nam, he's known as the "White Ghost". (He even wears white pancake makeup to further compound his reputation). Maj. Cross (Brown) decides to extract Shepard from the jungle, bring him back to the U.S., and find out what he knows. To do this, he hires a team of mercenaries. Now, with both the mercenaries and the Vietnamese army out for his blood, will Steve survive to white it up another day?

When we first see William Katt here, he looks like Christopher Atkins from The Blue Lagoon (1980). i.e., blonde and nearly nude. Somehow, after 15 years in the Vietnamese jungle, he still has a stylish perm. His bizarre afro/mullet hybrid aside, you have to admire his dedication to the hottest styles. Katt's performance (as well as his "outfits"), and to a certain extent, the movie itself, is reminiscent of the great Deadly Prey (1987) - but without about 90% of that movie's insanity. But, rest assured, about 10% is left over.

White Ghost's director, BJ Davis, is the man responsible for Laser Mission (1989), so, there you go. While we greatly enjoyed Katt's presence here (especially his "conviction face"), and think it's a shame he wasn't in more movies like this in the 70's and 80's, we also felt Wings Hauser could have filled the Steve Shepard role nicely.

While the movie does start slow, it's worth hanging in there, because it does pick up steam as it goes along. White Ghost is pretty much a slightly above average 80's VHS Vietnam action movie, with all the trappings that would imply. Torture, shooting, booby traps, blow-ups, and of course the guard tower falls and exploding huts we all know and enjoy. But there are plenty of funny and silly moments as well to keep the viewers' interest even further.

As far as the mercenaries in this particular jungle, or the "White Ghost Team" with its "White Ghost Leader", there's the guy that looks like Stallone, the guy that looks like Jesse Ventura, the beardo and John Barrett. Barrett doesn't do all that much here, but you can chalk up another actioner for his underrated career. Their character names aren't all that important, but the scenes with the mercs do provide some more good bits in the film. As for fan favorite Reb Brown, you have to wait almost the whole movie to hear his trademark yells, but they're there all right.

Released on TransWorld in VHS in the 80's, White Ghost is a decent, good movie, worth picking up if you see it somewhere cheap.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

12/28/2011

Catch The Heat (1987)

Catch The Heat (1987)-* *

Directed by: Joel Silberg

Starring: Tiana Alexandra, David Dukes, Brian Thompson, Professor Toru Tanaka, and Rod Steiger











Checkers Goldberg (Alexandra), who apparently is the original Whoopi Goldberg, is a San Francisco-based federal agent.  Her beauty and charm have led her into dangerous undercover work, such as dealing with drug-dealing scumbags like Danny Boy (Thompson). But she gets her biggest undercover job to date when she and partner Waldo Tarr (Dukes, who apparently is the original David Duke) must go to Argentina to stop big-time drug lord/talent scout Jason Hannibal (Steiger) and his army of goons such as Dozu (Tanaka). Evidently crucial to this crimefighting process is Goldberg’s transformation into Cinderella Pu, a stereotype-Chinese character with a thick accent. Will Waldo and Checkers be able to bring down their criminal empire...and fall in love in the process?  Yes...WALDO and CHECKERS.

This movie is very, very dumb, not to mention stupid. It’s directed by Joel Silberg, the director of the first Breakin’ (1984). All we can say is...stick with Breakin’. Like Breakin’, this movie does feature some noteworthy music on the soundtrack  (such as theme song “Captive in the Heat”... not Catch the, but Captive in, for those keeping score at home) and cool 80’s fashions. But the Martial Arts is pretty watered down and the humor is lame. This is surprising considering the movie was written by famous, lauded writer Stirling Silliphant.

Alexandra is nice to look at, but she’s no female Sho Kosugi, as this movie seems to be grooming her to be. Her line readings are so bad they’re funny, but maybe it’s supposed to be that way. Rod Steiger is on hand for some reason as the main baddie. It’s a total paycheck role for this normally fine actor. They don’t make him do anything too strenuous for fear that his wig might fly off.



While this movie isn’t totally without its merits, and has a nice cast, including fan-favorite Brian Thompson in a small role - yes, Yahoots Magoondi himself - and the always-lovable Professor Toru Tanaka - Catch the Heat (whatever that means) shouldn’t exactly be a priority for your collection.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty







12/26/2011

Iron Thunder (1998)

Iron Thunder (1998)-Zero Stars

Directed by: Jay Woelfel

Starring: Richard Hatch








We get no pleasure out of saying this...for those new to this site, we’re not those snarky internet guttersnipes that just nitpick movies (mainly because they’re just nerds who don’t know anything; we’re just regular people)...but Iron Thunder is the worst movie we’ve reviewed to date. All copies of this cinematic abortion should be eradicated from the earth.

The really sad part is, it never has to be this way. Like other potential renters, we presume, we thought “Oh, Iron Thunder. That’s a cool title, even though there’s already a movie by that name starring Anthony “Amp” Elmore, and it stars Richard Hatch. It can’t be all bad”. Well, it IS all bad, because it has nothing viewers look for when they watch movies: likable characters, an interesting story, and an enjoyability factor that rises above zero.

Apparently Richard Hatch plays a guy with a plug in his head (not to be confused with “Plughead” from the Circuitry Man series) who goes rogue with a new experimental tank and a team of soldiers has to go find him and avoid being killed by him. The rock-bottom budget gives all the proceedings a junky look, from the horrible CD-ROM-style graphics to the toy tanks they used as laughable miniatures. Other effects are just annoying and headache-inducing. This utter slog is sub-crud and there’s a lot of talkiness you just don’t care about and are not even close to being invested in. And the kicker is, this crime against movies goes on for a punishing, brutal, inexplicable, inexcusable 110 minutes! Why? What were they thinking?

Try to imagine a STUPIDER Digital Man (1995) crossed with a MUCH stupider Bulletproof (1988), add a few more layers of worthlessness, draw it out for almost two full hours and then you might have some clue as to how unbelievably bad this movie is. It truly gives low-budget and Direct-To-Video filmmaking a bad name and insults them besides. This movie is a traitor to the cause of awesome DTV action-packed fun.

Don’t they teach warnings against this sort of thing in film school? Apparently this director wasn’t paying attention, not that he’s at all attuned to the wants and needs of others. It’s funny how, somehow, people live up to their name, and the perpetrator of this movie is one Jay Woelfel and indeed everything about this THING is indeed woeful. How DARE he unleash this atrocity on the public? How come there’s no repercussions for this?

Amazingly, Iron Thunder was at our local library. Even at a rental cost of zero, it was not worth it. It actually takes a toll on you. Avoid this movie like the plague.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty



12/23/2011

The Zero Boys (1986)

The Zero Boys (1986)-* *

Directed by: Nico Mastorakis

Starring: Daniel Hirsch, Tom Shell, Jared Moses, Kelli Maroney, Crystal Carson, Joe Estevez, and Nicole Rio











Steve, Larry and Rip (Hirsch, Shell and Moses, respectively) and their girlfriends, Jamie, Trish and Sue (Maroney, Carson and Rio, respectively) go deep into the woods of California for a paintball expedition. You see, the aforementioned dudes are “the best” at paintball. Surely something to be proud of. Collectively they are known as “The Zero Boys”. After holing up in an old cabin, the young adults are stalked by a murderous madman and the terror begins. Will they ever get out alive?

Like Masterblaster (1987), The Zero Boys is a mix of popular genres of the time, borrowing from survival movies, wilderness horror, slashers, and even Romps (what we call 80’s teen sex romps for short). Imagine a not-as-good take on Just Before Dawn (1981) mixed with Friday the 13th (1980) (Jason is even mentioned in this film, as is Stallone, so it’s no wonder this movie must have been seen by the Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005) filmmakers, who clearly stole from some of its horror elements and must have liked its “ironic self-reflexivity” which also paved the way for the Scream series). Of course, throw in the paintball from the aforementioned Masterblaster, and this is what you get.



On the down side, the ‘Boys are unlikable and you don’t care about their plight. If they’re being picked off one by one, so much the better. Not a lot happens in this movie, and the last third is very hard to see, as it’s at night in the forest with minimal lights. So there’s minimal action AND you can’t see it. If the characters weren’t so annoying, this would be a different experience entirely.  Plus there’s no main, recognizable, understandable villain. That’s also a major no-no.

On the up side, in the first half of the movie, there is some energetic and interesting camerawork, as well as some cool music by Hans Zimmer, who later became a soundtrack big shot. There’s a lot of un-PC dialogue which is always great and preserves the “totally 80’s” vibe.



Just imagine director Mastorakis’ take on 8mm (1999) meets White Fury (1990), crossed with his own Nightmare at Noon (1988). While movies like this never get credit for being ahead of the curve, as discussed in our Bloodmoon (1997) review, The Zero Boys has what must be the first Taser on screen (and what a Taser!), as well as some pioneering use of video as part of the plot. But the problem is that it is all over the map genre-wise. So was Masterblaster, but that worked and this doesn’t, mainly because it takes itself so seriously and has jerks for protagonists. Sadly, Mastorakis seems to lose interest as the movie goes along, and the movie suffers for it. Not surprisingly, the viewers’ interest wanes as well.  All they had to do to turn this movie around was to give it some characters you care about and a strongly defined villain. But no. Apparently that was too much to ask. There’s really no excuse for these silly errors.

Released by Lightning Video, The Zero Boys starts out not without some merits, but it’s like starting at the top of a rollercoaster that goes slowly down into a valley but never comes out of it.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

12/21/2011

Blackbelt (1992)

Blackbelt (1992)-* * *

Directed by: Charles Phillip Moore and Rick Jacobson

Starring: Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Deirdre Imershein, Alan Blumenfeld, Richard Beymer, Ian Jacklin, and Matthias Hues












Jack Dillon (The Dragon) is an ex-cop turned martial arts instructor. He also does favors on the side for people that need help but can’t exactly go to the cops. When up-and-coming singing star Shanna (Imershein) receives a severed finger in a box, she turns to Dillon for help. Shanna has other problems as well, as her “backer” is mobster Eddie Deangelo (Beymer). He’s pressuring her to sign a new contract with him, and she doesn’t want to. Naturally Deangelo focuses all his rage (and goons) on Jack Dillon, her new protector. Amidst fighting his way through the underworld to protect Shanna, Jack discovers that insane, murderous, psychopathic ex-mercenary killer John Sweet (Hues) is behind all the mayhem. Only a confrontation between Dillon and Sweet will determine the fate of Shanna, among other people. Who will win?

As this is a Corman production, it seems he wanted to go with the Bloodfist formula of having real-life martial artists in the cast, and with their screen credit along with their name is their fighting title. Also it’s 80 minutes, so right there we see the formula. But Blackbelt is truly Don “The Dragon” Wilson at his best. His lovably wooden performances are here in full, but he gets a ton of great lines (pretty much all of them, and they’re almost all snappy one-liners). Wilson worked on the fight choreography, and in true early-90’s fashion, the violence is simultaneously brutal and, at times, very funny. Both his, as well as Matthias Hues’ entrances are both great and it’s a treat to see them together, and their final fight doesn’t disappoint.

Hues also puts in a career-best performance as the Psycho (1960)-inspired Oedipal bad guy. Sure, Hues is always the baddie, but here he shows some depth as the ironically-named Sweet. Also, according to the plot, his blows are powerful enough to kill people. And his yells and grunts are priceless.

Naturally, in a classic cliche, Dillon and Deangelo “go way back” - and it should be noted that even though Dillon isn’t officially on the force, he has a partner, Sturges (Blumenfeld). There really should have been a Dillon and Sturges TV show. It would have been a great cop drama - the classic, dedicated but pudgy cop and the Karate-fighting ex-cop solving crimes. What’s really criminal is that this was never made. But at least we have Blackbelt. (However, that title is somewhat misleading, as Dillon’s, nor anyone else’s) belt level is ever talked about, much less fought over.

Not to be insulting to Miss Imershein, but the role of Shanna should have gone to someone just a little bit hotter, perhaps Wilson’s Ring of Fire (1991) co-star and frequent Corman starlet Maria Ford. Then their relationship would have been more believable. But watch out for the posters of Shanna gracing the cover of “Rock” magazine (not meant to look like Spin, surely), along with Pearl Jam. Hey, it was 1992 after all. But all her accolades are certainly deserved once you see her perform the song “Love Rocket” - along with the background dancers who are so comatose they make Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” girls look like a row of Rip Taylors on speed.

As for the VHS box: The story for the movie was co-written by Neva Friedenn (who also wrote for other Wilson vehicles) - and on the cover there is a quote: “The most action packed, sexiest kickboxing movie ever made!!” Note the two exclamation points. And guess who the quote is attributed to? Yes, Neva Friedenn! You can tout your own productions on their VHS boxes like that? Who knew? Additionally, they misspell “Matthias” when talking about the mighty Hues. Just shameful, really.

It should also be noted that Ian Jacklin is in this movie for about one second. Despite that, this movie is still worth seeing, as it is an entertaining romp from the golden age with two of the genre’s most beloved stars. What’s not to like?

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

12/19/2011

Zero Tolerance (1994)

Zero Tolerance (1994)-* * * *

Directed by: Joseph Merhi

Starring: Robert Patrick, Titus Welliver, Mick Fleetwood, Jeffery Anderson-Gunther, and Miles O'Keefe











PM knows action, and by this point in their history they had refined their craft to such a point that they  turned it into an art. Case in point: Zero Tolerance. This movie is awesome. It delivers the goods in every possible way.

Jeff Douglas (Patrick) is a by-the-book FBI agent and family man. On what he thinks will be just a routine assignment, he must go down to Mexico and pick up Manta (Welliver), an evil, but charismatic killer and drug dealer. He is a member of the White Hand, a sinister underworld organization intent on putting a new form of liquid heroin on the streets. Things don’t go exactly as planned, and Manta escapes. Now back with his criminal associates Vitch (Fleetwood), Kowalski (O’Keeffe), LaFleur (Anderson-Gunter), and others, he commits an act that is so horrendous against Jeff Douglas, Jeff must go rogue and systematically kill all the baddies. His FBI counterparts don’t approve of his reckless ways, but Jeff doesn’t care. He’s traveling around the country on a no-holds-barred revenge mission, and for the people that wronged him, he has ZERO TOLERANCE.

Robert Patrick as the hero, Jeff Douglas, was an excellent choice. Zero Tolerance has way more emotion than a normal film of this type, and Patrick is just the man to carry it off. That’s something that makes this movie special. You can see Douglas slowly losing patience with life, and being stripped of everything he has. With his emotions flooding, we see he has nothing left to lose, and he takes out his grief and pain, as well as anger, on his aggressors. Another interesting casting choice was Mick Fleetwood as one of the top bad guys. It seems the filmmakers wanted to go with Donald Pleasance, but seeing as how the drummer for Fleetwood Mac is evil in real life, the casting decision was a no-brainer. O’Keeffe puts in one of his best roles also, as the conflicted baddie with the Matt Hannon-like hair.

Titus Welliver is also noteworthy as the sinister, purple suited Manta. He’s actually not the only one in the movie that wears a purple suit. He even has a multi-screen videoconferencing system with his fellow evildoers which can only be described as GoToDrugDeal (patent pending). This was way before Skype and a lot of other technology. As we discussed in the Bloodmoon (1997) review, direct to video action movies oftentimes are ahead of the curve technology-wise, but no one gives them credit because no one ever talks about them.



But the bottom line is, this is a mega-entertaining, fast-paced gem that delivers the goods times ten. It’s the best kind of revenge movie. It has a well-written plot, a likable hero, a hate-able villain, and action and stunts galore, but it actually has underpinnings of emotion and depth. What more could you want?

Zero Tolerance gets our most enthusiastic recommendation. See it today!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

12/17/2011

Bloodmoon (1997)

Bloodmoon (1997)-* * *1\2

Directed by: Kuang Hsiung

Starring: Gary Daniels, Chuck Jeffreys, Darren Shahlavi, Nina Repeta, Brandie Rocci, Keith Vitali, Rob Van Dam, Leigh Jones, and Frank Gorshin












In New York City, a serial killer with a very silly costume (Shahlavi) is going around beating up/killing all the meatheads in town. Chief Hutchins (Gorshin) assigns police detective Chuck Baker (Jeffreys) to the case. Aside from being an avid martial artist and cop, Baker also enjoys magic tricks. But when the man known only as “the killer” ramps up his evil doings by taunting the NYPD via his mastery of the newly-formed “internet”, a serial killer expert, Ken O’Hara (Daniels) is brought in to assist Baker. O’Hara is a good-natured divorced man with a young daughter, Lauren (Jones). Of course, he is also a highly skilled martial artist. When it is discovered that The Killer has murdered O’Hara’s beloved, elderly, mustachioed Kendo instructor, and is now after his cousin Kelly (Rocci), O’Hara finally gets angry and wants revenge. Naturally, at first O’Hara and Baker don’t get along, but they must team up to stop the mysterious killer with the detachable metal fingers.

Bloodmoon is a very entertaining movie, and has a pretty insane, off-kilter vibe. Sure, it’s a bit overlong at 100-plus minutes, and some of the more repetitive aspects of the movie could have been trimmed, but the excellent fights make up for any other minor flaws. It’s all Hong-Kong style fast-paced, creative moves meant to please fans of this genre. No doubt this was due to the fact that this is a Seasonal Films production directed by  Kuang Hsiung, who recently served as one of the action directors for Ip Man (2008). And the writer, Keith Strandberg, is responsible for penning the No Retreat, No Surrender (1986) and American Shaolin (1991) series. So that should give you some idea of what to expect here.

Chuck Jeffreys has charisma and humor coming out of every pore of his body, and even his magic tricks come complete with wacky sound effects. His resemblance to Eddie Murphy/Robert Townsend is uncanny.

Gary Daniels is, as always, extremely likable as the “mind hunter”, or profiler. He really gives Richard Norton a run for his money in the “white guy with an accent who is an excellent martial artist but is also very personable and likable” department. The legendary Frank Gorshin is awesome as the stereotypical angry chief. It was nice to see him, especially in a role like that. Let’s not forget Jeffrey Pillars as the classic computer geek Justice, and there’s even an early appearance from wrestler Rob Van Dam. Brandie Rocci is nice as the spunky Kelly in a role that will remind you of Cynthia Rothrock. Shahlavi as the baddie, complete with metal shoes that make for painful kicking, was a cross between impressive martial arts and out-and-out silliness. Kind of like the movie itself, really.


Add to that the nostalgic 90’s computers (and surely some of the earliest references to the Internet, GPS, and texting ever seen on film - movies like this never get credit for being ahead of their time) and you have a rollicking good time.

Great quality fights and many funny moments are the name of the game for Bloodmoon.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett



12/14/2011

White Tiger (1996)

White Tiger (1996)-* * *

Directed by: Richard Martin

Starring: Gary Daniels, Cary-Hiroyugi Tagawa, Matt Craven, Julia Nickson,and George Cheung


“Change is the only constant in life."







DEA agent Mike Ryan (Daniels) would rather be rock climbing with his buddy and fellow Special Op John Grogan (Craven)...but instead he’s chasing after a gang of Asian drug lords led by the sinister Victor Chow (Tagawa). Like Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), Tagawa and his boys are going to unleash a powerful new drug on the black market. When Chow murders his buddy, despite being told to just “let it go”, Mike Ryan goes out for revenge - but who can he trust? The beautiful Jade (Nickson)? The beautiful Detective Fong (Cheung)? Mike Ryan is going to have to go rogue and trust his own instincts and martial arts skill on his quest to find Victor Chow.


Gary Daniels plays another likable dude and Tagawa another baddie in White Tiger, a film with not much going on in the plot department, but which contains great fights and is very fast paced.  The story is credited to Bey Logan, the mastermind of the excellent Dragon Dynasty label of releases. So you know there’s going to be quality fights and stunts. Funnily enough, the music that underpins it all is either this modern techno or 90’s “grunge”. While the movie does take place primarily in Seattle (although it was filmed in Vancouver, Canada), the band “Pull” should be ashamed. Graeme Coleman who did the electronic soundtrack was trying to bring the martial arts film into the 90’s, but we feel he over-reached a bit.


But the overall feel is that the filmmakers were trying to modernize the direct-to-video action film, with the aforementioned music, slick cinematography and a professionally-made vibe. Luckily, they didn’t use these things as substitutes for the action goods, as is so common today. Gary Daniels always rocks and here is no exception. In his non-action scenes, he is his usual personable, charming self, and in the action department, he seems to be constantly pushing himself and trying new things. Check out some of his awesome takedowns for proof. While Tagawa and some of the others are good, White Tiger is a clear case of No Daniels = No Movie. He carries the film and makes it seem effortless.

For an intellectually unchallenging but classier-than-usual DTV beat ‘em up, White Tiger will fit the bill perfectly.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

12/12/2011

Executive Target (1997)

Executive Target (1997)-* * *

Directed by: Joseph Merhi

Starring: Michael Madsen, Angie Everhart, Keith David, Roy Scheider, Dayton Callie, Gareth Williams, Robert Miano, and Matthias Hues




"First I get the money, then I get the Prez..."-Nick






Nick James (Madsen) is a professional stunt car driver who is on his way to prison. While riding the prison transfer bus, Lacey (Everhart) and the stupidly-named Clay Ripple (Williams) manage to break him out and he escapes. They do this because they are the minions of super-villain Lamar (David). Lamar hears that Nick is the best at what he does and they want him to be the wheelman for a bank robbery. Nick wants no part of it, but they kidnap his wife Nadia (Christopherson) and say they will kill her if he doesn’t comply. But there’s something bigger afoot: to quote the movie’s tagline, “Kidnapping the President is worth a hell of a lot of money”.  So while Nick does technically kidnap President Carlson (Scheider), The Prez is sympathetic to Nick’s situation and they vow to take down Lamar’s terrorist organization.


PM once again delivers the car-flipping-over-and-exploding-in-the-middle-of-the-street goods, at least in the action department. Sure, the chase scenes are overlong and contain some classic cliches (fruit carts and women with carriages, the only thing missing was two workers carrying a large pane of glass), but, like Last Man Standing (1996), it seems Pepin & Merhi were trying, even STRIVING for theatrical quality. It doesn’t quite make it, but at least they’re trying, unlike many of their competitors.

One of the more convincing reasons to watch this movie is the cast. We didn’t even mention Robert Miano and Matthias Hues. Sadly, it’s a nothing role for Hues, as he plays Vic, a bank robber who gets shot (remind you of any other Michael Madsen movies?). He doesn’t appear until forty minutes into the film, and has only one line of spoken dialogue: “I Can’t”. Unless you count some of his moanings and groanings while he is wounded. Gareth Williams is hate-able as Ripple, Keith David goes way over the top as the main baddie, but what do you expect of a criminal mastermind with an underground command center so large, it has its own name - “Area 55”? But somehow the authorities don’t know this place exists. Maybe that’s because it’s “two hours outside L.A.”. Because nothing exists there, right?


Scheider plays exactly the same role he does in The Peacekeeper (1997) (why is he even here?), Madsen is laconic, and Everhart is fun to watch as she plays the villainess with the permanent scowl on her face. You gotta love the banter between some of the characters, it’s priceless (well, more groan-inducing). Especially the scenes with Nick’s buddy Bela (Callie).


If it’s car stunts and blow-ups you seek, look no further. This movie exemplifies the PM credo that multiple, gigantic explosions and cars flying and flipping every which way need not make sense or have any justification - it’s just awesome to watch and can be highly entertaining, if in a pretty dumb way. But these stunts took a lot of work and effort to pull off, and we recognize and respect that. These are REAL stunts, not CGI garbage. We wholly support the true stunt/pyrotechnic masterminds behind Executive Target.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

12/09/2011

Night Of The Wilding (1990)

Night Of The Wilding (1990)-* *

Directed by: Joseph Merhi

Starring: Erik Estrada, Joey Travolta, Kathrin Middleton, Isaac Allen, Kimberly Speiss, Joe Verroca, Charlie Ganis, Pamela Dixon, Robert Dickey, and Raymond Martino











PM goes for something different here, taking a break from out-and-out action movies and delivering a courtroom drama inspired by the then-new show, Law and Order.

Joseph Gainer (Estrada) is a high-powered Beverly Hills defense attorney who has never lost a case. Constantly defending scumbags and releasing them back out into society seems to be getting under his skin however. Three teenage psychopaths, led by Carl Sloan (Allan) - the other two being the token “weak link” who has somewhat of a conscience about their evil deeds, Alan (Dickey) and Carl’s right-hand man, Martin (Ganis) break into a house and assault and rape Betty Truesky (Austin) and Doris (Kimberly Spiess, better known to adult film fans as Carol Cummings). They also attack another member of the family, a man named Bill Paxton! (Verroca, sadly not Bill Paxton). Gainer ends up as one of the lawyers defending the little jerks, and the prosecutor is his former wife Marion (Kathrin Lautner AKA Middleton). They still have a rapport, and issues of law and justice are continually coming up. What will be the fate of Betty, Doris, Carl, Martin, Alan, Joseph and Marion?

Like the aforementioned Law and Order, PM and director Joseph Merhi do a “ripped from the headlines” type of story about the incidents of “Wilding” in the late 80’s/early 90’s. The title “Night of the Wilding” is somewhat misleading for a courtroom movie like this. It’s not exactly in the same league as Night of the Kickfighters (1988). Plus, is a home invasion /attack really wilding? No one is sure exactly what “wilding” is, but we’re pretty sure it’s out in public. Not in private. This movie brings up questions like that. Can you “wild” in the privacy of your own home?


Estrada, who is perfect for a role like this, does reasonably well. Some of his clothing, especially his out-of-the-courtroom casual wear, is quite something. Sure, he has a mullet, but you know he’s one of the good guys because the evildoers have longer, eviller mullets.  It’s weird - at times the film seems to go as close to an authentic legal drama as it can - and other times what happens plot-wise is utterly absurd.  Add some odd clarinet music on the soundtrack, and Joey Travolta for some reason and the result is Night of the Wilding. For more Joey\Wilding action see: Wilding: The Children Of Violence (1991)

The obvious highlight of the film occurs right towards the end and involves a  baseball field. That’s all we’ll say. Watch out for it.

While not what you’d call a classic or a typical PM, we give them points for not simply churning out another blow-em-up movie, but we’re not sure this more dramatic approach reached its target audience. After all, PM makes the BEST blow-em-ups, and that’s what fans want. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Fans of TV-movie style courtroom dramas probably never found this movie in the first place, while PM aficionados (I assume they’re out there) more than likely won’t be adding this to their top 10 list of favorite PM’s.

While there is some clunkiness, especially in the acting department, Night of the Wilding is really not that bad (especially considering some of the unintentional laughs), but don’t go in expecting fireworks.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

12/07/2011

Wilding: The Children Of Violence (1991)

Wilding: The Children Of Violence (1991)-* * *

Directed by: Eric Louzil

Starring: Wings Hauser, Joey Travolta, Steven Cooke, Karen Russell, Derek Anunciation, Kelly Curtis, Chris McCloud, and David Crane







 

Parsons (Hauser) and Peters (Travolta) are cops on the beat trying to get to the bottom of a rape/murder case. Parsons is the more hardline dude (sporting some cool sunglasses) and Peters is the cop with a soft spot. As it turns out, the victims were subject to rampant wilding - presumably a group of kids going nuts. But it went too far. Tommy Baldwin (Steven Cooke) is a high school student who is leading a double life as an amoral wilding leader. He is egged on by his second-in-command Jason (Anunciation). Perhaps only the power of family, as represented by Tommy’s father and brother (Chris McCleod and David Crane) can save Tommy. Or will it be something else?

Not to be confused with Night of the Wilding (1990), here we have ANOTHER wilding movie. And the amazing part is - Joey Travolta is in both! Surely this must be a movie first. There are only two movies about wilding that we know of, and Joey is there whichever way you turn. How did this happen? Did he specifically request to his agent that he only wants to star in movies about wilding? Or is it purely a coincidence? Nevertheless, Joey is at his best here. It must have been a challenge to hold your own against co-star Wings Hauser, but Joey just about upstages him.
In the late 80’s/early 90’s, wilding must have been a topic that was on everyone’s minds, and AIP wasn’t about to let the opportunity slip away. Sure, there is some mild social commentary within, but some of the acting/non-acting is hilarious and there are two huge laugh-out-loud moments as well. We won’t spoil them for you here. Also, Tommy’s father looks like Dick Butkus and wears some great outfits (everyone in this movie has great outfits). The character of Jason, who is supposedly so evil, looks like a 10-year old dork. He resembles a cross between Lou Diamond Phillips and Alfred E. Newman.

As for the wilding, it mainly seems to consist of kids watching cars race dune buggies. And one kid in the crowd is juggling. Yep, that’s how you know these kids are up to no good. “They know how to juggle, let’s get out of here!” Other indications that these teens are rebels are the posters and T-shirts they have. Guns n’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, The Ramones, The Clash, Sex Pistols and even Mentors merchandise can be seen. If they’re “punk” or “metal” you know they are on the outskirts of society. The influence of the movie Suburbia (1983) comes through here (and elsewhere). This is best exemplified when Tommy’s brother, perhaps the ultimate preppy, goes to their lair and conflict ensues.

Adding to the overall vibe of fun, low-budget silliness is the fact that there is a montage of highlights from the movie during the opening credits. You don’t see this too often, mainly because filmmakers probably don’t want to spoil any potential surprises. But not director Eric Louzil (best known for his Troma work).

Also it should be noted that Wilding is filled with great music, highlighted by the title song, “Don’t Try to Stop Tomorrow” by Tiziana Rivale. This Pat Benatar-like tune will be stuck in your head for days.

A lot of fun, see this movie if you get the chance to. Of all the wilding movies, this one stands head and shoulders above the other one.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Check out the trailer!

12/05/2011

Never Too Young To Die (1986)

Never Too Young To Die (1986)-* * *1\2

Directed by: Gil Bettman

Starring: John Stamos, Vanity, Gene Simmons, Peter Kwong, Robert Englund, and George Lazenby













Drew Stargrove (Lazenby) is a top-secret super-agent who has discovered that an awful plot is hatching: The evil Ragnar (Simmons) is going to poison the water supply of the Los Angeles area. When the ruthless Ragnar kills Drew, his son, the younger, more mulleted Stargrove, Lance (Stamos) must pick up where his father left off. Teaming up with the beautiful Danja Deering (Vanity) and his roommate Cliff (Kwong), who is an inventor of wacky, but helpful gadgets (no parallels to James Bond here), they set off to stop Ragnar and his minions.

Where to start with this classic? Never Too Young To Die is a very, very fun and highly entertaining movie - they truly do NOT make ‘em like this anymore. Lance Stargrove is a gymnast and Ragnar is a transvestite who performs under the name “Velvet”. Any movie with George Lazenby, John Stamos, Vanity and Gene Simmons - not to mention Robert Englund - is going to be a rare gem indeed and the movie does not disappoint. To quote the back of the VHS box (released by Charter), Vanity and Stamos “...must take on the maniacal hermaphrodite.” If that doesn’t pique your interest in seeing the movie, you’re probably dead. And they wrote that like it’s no big, unusual thing. God bless the 80’s.


Simmons really throws himself into the role he was clearly born to play. Perhaps a bit too much. John Stamos should have done more movies like this. His only other role that’s even a little bit similar is as the awesomely-named Grady Westerfall in Born to Ride (1991). There really should have been a Stargrove sequel - even a franchise, like Bond. They certainly say the name enough times, in true Brakus fashion. The whole thing was directed by Gil Bettman, who later directed Night Vision (1997). But this was indisputably his finest hour.


The movie tries to marry the action to typically-80’s comedy stylings, and the whole movie, from the names of the characters on down, has a very comic-booky feel. This was typical of the time as movies like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) and The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak (1984), among other examples, clearly shows.

Thanks to all the weird, goofy, wacky and funny scenarios, time speeds by when watching this gem. The theme song by Tommie Lee Bradley is memorable as well.

For a true crowd-pleaser, seek out Never Too Young to Die.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

12/02/2011

Soldier Boyz (1995)

Soldier Boyz (1995)-* * *

Directed: Louis Morneau

Starring: Michael Dudikoff, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tyrin Turner, Don Stroud, and Jacqueline Obradors












When Gabrielle Prescott (Hansen), daughter of rich white man Jameson Prescott (Brandt) is kidnapped by the National Liberation Front leader Vinh Moc (Tagawa) and held for ransom, Jameson enlists Major Howard Tolliver (Dudikoff) to rescue her. Thinking he can't do it alone, he enlists a ragtag team of prisoners, and together, they are the titular "Soldier Boyz" (even though one of them is female). They all travel to Vietnam and must train together - and they don't always get along. Will the Soldier Boyz be victorious?

Dudikoff puts in his usual good performance amidst the usual classic cliches, such as the exploding guard towers.  Imagine a Nam Angels (1989)-type situation with a bearded Dudikoff for part of the time. Add in some of The Walking Dead (1995) and there you have it. While this movie is a low-budget actioner with a "Z" in "Boyz" instead of an "S" (S's are just not cool. Z's are much cooler, clearly), this movie is actually well-made. Tagawa is fitting as the ruthless, evil leader, something he's surely familiar with playing.  You basically care about the characters - are they a youth group or prisoners - or a youth group of prisoners? Don't forget, the donation of ten million dollars to their youth group is "non-negotiable"!

The movie is fast paced, with some good action sequences. Tolliver has a bad attitude because his family was gunned down (shown in flashback and never mentioned again). During the extensive training, all the Soldier Boyz try to fight Tolliver and naturally they all lose. Probably because they're not as awesome.

The ending is a bit abrupt, but that's fairly common for these Direct To Video/Cable outings. There's something here for Dudikoff fans.

Watch out for the video game in 1997! (Yes, there is actually a Soldier Boyz game for your PC).

Here is a clip from the game:



Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett