(Not So) Random Film of the Week: Slipstream (1989)

Video Store Action Heroes - Banner 9 final

This one’s a real woozy-doozy, folks. But an innnnteresting woozy-doozy.

Welcome to this latest installment of VSAH, folks! Definitely check out this month’s other reviews from Todd at Cinema Monolith, Mike at Mike’s Take on the Movies, and Sir Wolf (you’ve been knighted, pal) over at Wolfman’s Cult Film Club.

slipstream 1989Ambition can be a weird and wild thing at times, particularly when it comes to film production whether it be a big deal studio film or tiny independent flick. Taking a pack of awesome ideas and turning them into reality (well, of the cinematic kind) while keeping an audience hooked into the world you’ve created it a risky business, specifically when it comes to fantasy and science fiction.

Granted, the actual “science” in most sci-fi is at best, suspect and at worst, more than enough to yank a viewer clean out of the experience and leave them scratching their heads raw (ow!) while they try and figure out what the hell is going on in some scenes as they miss an important plot point or three in the process.  On the other hand, a film like Steven Lisberger’s (TRON) absolutely ambitious 1989 film Slipstream isn’t going to be one where you question the science all that much (if at all) because you’ll likely be questioning a few other more important things from parts of its plot to some offbeat cameos that may add to the star power, but come off a bit too much like stunt casting or a few folks popping in for a fast paycheck.

 

slipstream pax

Bill Paxton, doing his best Bill Paxton doing Christian Slater look, circa 1989.

 

The film certainly kicks off ambitiously enough with a properly bombastic Elmer Bernstein main theme and a wonderfully shot flying sequence using one of a few of the custom made aircraft created specifically for the production. That plane is carrying the somewhat cantankerous “peacekeeper” Will Tasker (Mark Hamill) and his able-bodied assistant Belitski (Kitty Aldridge) and said plane is chasing a man in a nice suit (Bob Peck) running away from them to no avail. He’s caught up with and captured by the pair who plan to take him to some faraway location to be tried and executed for the murder he’s committed. Unfortunately for them, their nattily dressed prisoner is swiped by Matt Owens (Bill Paxton), a genial illegal arms dealer looking to make a big score when he discovers how valuable that prisoner is before he decides to try his hand at kidnapping.

Continue reading

Advertisements

(Not So) Random Film of the Week: The White Buffalo

It’s that time again, folks (Dangit, we need a THEME SONG):

Video Store Action Heroes - Banner 9 final

Go get that popcorn going, this one’s quite a doozy.

The Whire Buffalo (Kino)While it’s not that much of an “obscure” film these days thanks to a few DVD and Blu-Ray disc releases over the years, J. Lee Thompson’s wild fantasy/horror western The White Buffalo goes way the hell out of its way to be as surreal as possible (well, within the confines of a Hollywood studio film, circa 1977). If you’re allergic to allegory and go in expecting it to be a more typical manly-man weekend special Charles Bronson flick, it may likely baffle you with its mystical and more surreal elements even though it definitely delivers the goods on the action front.

If anything, this Dino De Laurentis produced follow up to 1976’s (not quite as classic as the true classic) remake of King Kong suffers from too little scope due in part to a lower budget that, combined with a script that’s not fully fleshed out in spots, doomed it to death by a thousand critics slicing away with pen-knives and audiences who likely were expecting a more commercial flick. Today, it’s a different story as the film has garnered a bit of a cult following, warts and all.

Bronson and Buffalo

One of these hairy dudes is Bronson, the other looks more like a hippie jackalope. Uh, wait. a sec…

Still, it’s an excellent showcase for Bronson, as he completely inhabits the role of an ailing James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok (or, James Otis as his alias here), who, after having recurrent nightmares about the titular creature terrorizing his mind, sets out to kill the beast but good. His competition for the prize: Crazy Horse (Will Sampson), whose infant daughter has been killed along with many of his tribe after a bloody rampage by the seemingly unstoppable, mountain wrecking, avalanche-causing monster.

In a kooky way, it’s more or less Ahab (from Moby Dick) meets Quint (from JAWS), but I don’t want to get too far with the literary or cinematic references even though the film is based off the novel by Richard Sale (who also wrote the screenplay). Let’s just say not every idea gels here, and to quote the late Milton Arbogast,

“You see, if it doesn’t jell, it isn’t aspic, and this ain’t jelling.”

That said, when it does gel, it’s like that time you used three boxes of gelatin and too little water and got something sweet you could bounce a silver dollar off of and have it hit you in the eye (ouch). Painfully palatable is a good description.

Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: KONGA

(thanks, Movie Trailer Graveyard!)

Konga MPWhile it’s not the worst man in a gorilla suit sci-fi/horror hybrid out there (Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla or A*P*E*, anyone?) 1961’s KONGA is nevertheless a terrifyingly bad movie that’s worth a watch for a few reasons. You’ll marvel at the ferocious, scenery chewing by Michael Gough’s mad botanist/scientist Dr. Charles Decker, the kitchen sink plot that tosses in carnivorous plants, terrible, inaccurate science, botany and biology, a love triangle that’s actually a square that gets whittled away corner by corner as the film progresses and some mostly lousy special effects that make this a total howler. I’ll get back to the ape suit later and the man in it, as both are another key to making this film so hysterically funny.

You have to admire a film that wants you to believe that Dr. Decker returns from his year-long trip to Africa (he’s actually missing and presumed dead!) with some strange ideas, some recipes for a serum that can make plants and animals grow to extreme sizes and a cute baby chimpanzee. His plant experiments end up creating a number of oversize man-eating varieties including (eek) some that look like gigantic black rubber penises with green veins a’poppin’ and red tongues hanging out (seriously). Before that rolls around in your head too much, Decker’s real showpiece is Konga, that baby chimpanzee he gives his serum who SOMEHOW changes into a gorilla (Wait, WHAT? Science takes another hit, folks POW!) before using his new “pet” to get revenge on a few of his peers (spoilers inbound, but it doesn’t matter because even if it’s all given away, this one’s worth seeing for the laughs it provides)… Continue reading

Wait, You’re Still Here? Mr.Moto Will Take Care Of You But Good…

(thanks, allpublicdomain!)

mr_motos_last_warning_MPI always used to crack up as a kid watching Peter Lorre jumping off stuff and onto some poor stuntman or actor as Mr. Moto, not realizing he wasn’t some very talented Asian guy, but some guy playing a very talented Asian. Yeah, not quite PC these days, but the films are still fun (and funny) to watch as Moto-san solves a murder or three, gets in some comments about people underestimating him for assorted reasons and wraps up each case with a neat little bow.

This one’s one of the later entries and not as “cool” as some of the previous films in my opinion, but still worth a look. And hey, it’s FREE, so knock it off with the “but I wanted to see something more current!” stuff and eat yer popcorn. That’s free as well when you come around here. Hey – you’re lucky I even let you in with all those shopping bags and that Black Friday grin you were wearing. You look like a possessed Cheshire Cat crossed with a tired elf!

If You’re Here, You Need Something To Do. So You Get A Free Movie!

(thanks, allpublicdomain!) 

scream in the night MPHey, I didn’t say it would be an Oscar-winner, now. It’s 1935’s “Scream in the Night” featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. and a bunch of other actors you probably won’t know unless you’re old or watch way too many films from the early part of the last century. I’ve never seen this one myself (or more precisely, I can’t recall seeing it, but I may have many moons back), so your guess is as good as mine as to its overall quality.

I figure not EVERYONE is passed out in front of the tube watching football or not in America celebrating Thanksgiving or Chanukah, so if you’re here, thanks for stopping by. Now go do something more interesting today than poke around here! Unless you REALLY want to. In that case, I’ll make you do the dishes or something later. Hmph – let me see what’s in the freezer now that you’re sticking around for dinner…