Back again, ladies and gents.
This week got a little more lively, especially once Artist Ensemble’s production of The 39 Steps got up on its merry feet and started trucking. Not sure what sparked the desire for an 80s ninja fix, but that was a lot of fun. With a couple independent horror efforts (one glossy, one decidedly not) to round things out, it wasn't such a bad little stretch of road.
Click on the links below for the full review (where applicable). As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.
Detention of the Dead (2012) (1st viewing) d. Mann, Alex Craig (USA)
**CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW**
Swamphead (2011) (1st viewing) d. Drover, Dustin / Propp, Justin (USA)
**CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW**
21 Jump Street (2012) (1st viewing) d. Lord, Phil / Miller, Chris (USA)
Damn Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill for being so damn likable and talented. There’s no way this big screen update of the late 80s TV series about youthful looking cops posing undercover as high school students should have been as much fun as it was. And yet, it was.
Mystery on Monster Island (1981) (1st viewing) d. Simon, Juan Piquer (Spain/UK)
On the other hand, with J.P. Simon (the man who gave us Pieces and Slugs) at the helm, and small but worthy supporting roles from Peter Cushing, Paul Naschy and Terence Stamp, this adaptation of the Jules Verne story should have been a lot more enjoyable. Instead, it's a lazy and cheap yarn about oats-sowing callow youth Ian Sera who finds himself shipwrecked on the titular isle, with monsters that would have been booted from H.R. Pufnstuf. Manservant David Hatton’s shrieking hammy histrionics are the final nails in the coffin and on the chalkboard. Three words: Banana Gatling Gun.
CHEESY 80S MARTIAL ARTS ACTION:
Revenge of the Ninja (1983) (1st viewing) d. Firstenberg, Sam (USA)
This follow-up to Golan-Globus’ wildly successful Enter the Ninja transmogrifies that film’s villain Sho Kosugi into our peace-loving, ass-kicking hero, battling the mob and duplicitous business partners. The baddies’ plan is to smuggle heroin inside Kosugi’s handmade Japanese dolls, and they’re not above murder, kidnapping or extortion to get what they want. Impressive stunts and luscious blonde fashion model Ashely Ferrare’s no-panties-under-her-gi stylings make up for the goofy dialogue and wooden acting. That’s Kosugi’s real-life son Kane playing…his onscreen son Kane.
Ninja III: The Domination (1984) (2nd viewing) d. Firstenberg, Sam (USA)
Aerobics instructor Lucinda Dickey (yes, the star of Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo and Cheerleader Camp) gets caught up in mystical intrigue when she is possessed by the spirit of slain evil ninja David Chung, and it’s up to shadowy good ninja Sho Kosugi to straighten things out. Loopy as hell third installment jumps the shark in a big, big way, but there’s no denying the cheeseball entertainment factor – the opening golf course scene where Chung (or at least his stuntman) kills off about 800 police officers is a bona-fide classic, as is Dickey’s seduction scene of naïve cop Jordan Bennett by pouring V-8 down her front.
Last Dragon, The (1985) (1st viewing) d. Schultz, Michael (USA)
I don’t know how this escaped me growing up, but I’m glad I waited to see it until my turkey-loving palate was refined enough to receive its full glory. Motown legend Berry Gordy served as executive producer, and the result is a mish-mash of every embarrassing 80s cliché from outrageous wardrobe choices to musical non-talents like Debarge assaulting the eardrums. The mononymic romantic pairing of gentle kung fu soul Taimak and hairspray sponge Vanity creates fewer sparks than two washrags in a wooden basin, but the scenery chewing showdown between arcade king Christopher Murney and “Shogun of Harlem” Julius Carry more than makes up the deficit. The fight scenes as Taimak pursues “the Glow” are passable, and the choice dialogue and cheapie effects sweeten the deal. Sho’ Nuff.
2013 Totals to date: 158 films, 149 1st time views, 83 horror, 48 cinema