Conan the Destroyer (1984)

conanthedestroyer_2Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, Mako, Tracey Walter, Sarah Douglas, Olivia d’Abo, Pat Roach, Jeff Corey, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Bruce Fleischer, Ferdy Mayne

Directed by Richard Fleischer

Expectations: Super low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Sequels are tricky business, perhaps harder to get right than the first film in a franchise. Conan the Destroyer is a film that had all the odds stacked against it right from the get-go, as it had the burden of attempting to follow one of the greatest fantasy motion pictures of all time. So instead of trying to bang out a rehash of the first film, the new creative team decided to go in a completely different direction. Conan the Destroyer represents a different side of Conan, much like many of Robert E. Howard’s original stories that represent an unexplored side of the character at different places in his life. Conan the Destroyer is definitely not anywhere near as awesome or as well-made as Milius’s original film, but it is a nearly non-stop parade of B-Movie fun.

Conan the Destroyer presents us with a story that Conan gets mixed up in, not one that is integral to the character. This immediately hampers the film from being the deeply resonant tale of woe and revenge that the first film was, but that’s OK — this one has crystal castles, wizards and crazy monsters! While praying at an altar, Queen Taramis of Shadizar sends in her guards to attack Conan. He easily bests them, slicing their nets and punching their horses. Upon his victory, the Queen tells him of a quest, one that if he succeeds will allow her to resurrect Valeria from the dead. Wanting nothing more than Valeria back in his life, Conan agrees and we’re off on a thrilling fantasy adventure.

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Stephen reviews: Locke the Superman (1984)

lockethesuperman_1Locke the Superman [超人ロック] (1984)
AKA Locke the Superman: Millennium of the Witch, Locke the Superpower, Star Warriors

Starring Keiichi Nanba, Yoshito Yasuhara, Keiko Han, Toshiko Fujita, Taeko Nakanishi

Directed by Hiroshi Fukutomi

In this adventure, Superman fights Lex Luthor’s evil army of — psych! This isn’t actually a Superman film at all. It just coincidentally has the word “Superman” in the title. I’m not sure what confusions the various translations between English and Japanese created, but that’s the name we got. Being unrelated doesn’t mean they aren’t similar, though. Locke is indeed pretty super. He even grabs a red cape and blue outfit just for kicks at the end of the film.

Also like Superman, the Superman has a vast array of powers that make him damn near unstoppable. All right, I have to start clearing things up before we all go insane, myself especially. Fortunately, Superman, the one with the red cape — oh wait they both have that. The one in tights then. Dang it, they both have tights too! OK, the guy from Krypton. They can’t both be from there, right? Good. That one has a few nicknames, so I’ll be referring to him as the Man of Steel just so we’ll know who I’m talking about.

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Supergirl (1984)

supergirl_1Starring Helen Slater, Faye Dunaway, Hart Bochner, Peter Cook, Brenda Vaccaro, Maureen Teefy, Marc McClure, Peter O’Toole, Mia Farrow, Simon Ward, David Healy

Directed by Jeannot Szwarc

Expectations: I’m so excited.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

The opening scene of Supergirl tries its best to liken itself to the opening scene of Superman, showing us a strange, alien world inhabited by humanoids much like ourselves. But where that original scene was interesting, the one in Supergirl falls a bit short. It does ostensibly perform the same task, though: setting up the canvas on which the rest of the film will be painted. For Superman, that canvas was grand and heroic, but for Supergirl, it’s campy, over-the-top and very much in the realm of B-Movies. One of my favorite phrases to repeat to myself while watching movies like Superman, Thor or The Avengers is, “This is cosmic done right!” Supergirl is most definitely “cosmic done wrong.” That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its share of fun, but even by ’80s or B-Movie standards this is pretty lackluster.

Kara Zor-El (AKA Supergirl, AKA Linda Lee) is Superman’s cousin. She lives in a white sparkling place called Argo City, which is basically a chunk of the planet Krypton that survived the destruction of the planet. They don’t really explain it, I don’t really understand it, but that’s what it is. Oh, and apparently it’s under our ocean? That REALLY didn’t make sense to me, because they show Supergirl going through space to get to Earth and then she pops out of a lake on the studio backlot. So I guess that was supposed to be the deep, dark ocean she was going through. It did have a watery look at times. The lake part still doesn’t compute, though, especially given the film’s ending. Maybe they were trying to clumsily remind us of the adage that all streams lead to the ocean? I honestly don’t know. Anyway… Peter O’Toole steals the city’s power source (the Omegahedron!) because he’s a wascaly, wascaly wabbit, but through a bad chain of events Supergirl ends up losing the Omegahedron when it rockets out the city’s paper walls. Uh oh. So Supergirl jumps in the city’s diving pod in order to retrieve the power source, and thus our adventure begins. But, of course, the Omegahedron immediately falls into the hands of our villain, the evil witch Selena (Faye Dunaway), who uses it to quickly gain power and fulfill her dreams of world domination.

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Purple Haze

purplerain_japanI will start by saying: it’s been years since I watched Purple Rain. With my combination of ADHD and my pre-dementia (just joking?), it was like watching it for the first time. I will start by asking: WHAT THE FUCK? I did not remember the acting being so horrible. The father, Clarence Williams III, was the only believable actor. The plot is about the Kid, played by Prince, an aspiring songwriter/musician. The Kid is struggling not to repeat the abusive and destructive behavior he witnesses from his father. While battling his father’s abusive relationship with his mother, the Kid, meets another aspiring musician, Apollonia, played by Apollonia Kotero. They have an immediate and intense attraction to each other. Their attraction is chronicled through Purple Rain’s kick ass soundtrack. Unfortunately, Prince is a man-child, who is paranoid and disturbed like his father. Prince is constantly mistreating Apollonia and the female members in his band, The Revolution. He is antagonistic, rude, and downright mean to the ladies in The Revolution, Lisa and Wendy. All they want is for him to listen to the songs that they wrote for their band. Prince is battling several personal and professional demons. Morris, played by Morris Day, is the Kid’s musical nemesis. Morris is trying to get Apollonia to join his girl band (later deemed Apollonia 6). Morris wants Apollonia 6 to take over the Kid’s nightly gig. The story is told through Prince’s real-life soundtrack, Purple Rain.

There are too many perspectives to write this review from: psychological, feminist, and/or artistic/nostalgic. I will give a brief description of the first two perspectives, but to keep it positive, I will write the full review from an artistic/nostalgic perspective.

If from a psychological perspective: there are some serious dysfunctional/abnormal behaviors, and mental disorders showcased. Because of my psychology background, I hereby order the family into some intensive family, marriage, and individual counseling. Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson would say that the Kid did not properly go through the stages of development. The Kid is a man-child that throws tantrums through song and pelvic thrusts.

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Purple Rain (1984)

PurpleRainStarring Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Clarence Williams III, Jerome Benton, Jill Jones, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Bobby ‘Z’ Rivkin, Matt Fink, Brown Mark

Directed by Albert Magnoli

Expectations: Moderate.


As much as I love Prince — and let me tell you: I LOVE PRINCE! — I really wasn’t looking forward to re-watching Purple Rain. I saw it “not too long ago,” which to me is about two years ago. I usually wait longer than that, as I’m the type of person to just forge ahead and watch movies I’ve never seen before. Despite this bias, re-watching Purple Rain offered a lot more entertainment than I had expected it would. I knew the live footage was dope, and nothing has changed that. But what I didn’t count on was achieving a new respect for the story that Purple Rain tells.

On the surface, Purple Rain is a vanity project, an extended music video, a way to broaden Prince’s fan base. But what those distinctions don’t explain are the multiple instances of domestic violence and the other complex themes present. These themes show that a simple extended music video was not Prince’s intention at all. The story connecting his songs is challenging and fraught with emotional distress. It’s an incredibly bold move, and a lesser artist couldn’t have pulled it off. Can you imagine if the Justin Bieber movie had the balls to do something like that? Purple Rain is so much more than an extended music video, it’s also an experimental musical drama that achieves everything it sets out to. In today’s day where the studios are more worried about offending someone than creating something truly unique, Prince’s Purple Rain stands out as a true piece of art.

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The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

Starring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Juliana Donald, Lonny Price, Louis Zorich

Directed by Frank Oz

Expectations: Moderate. This was the one I thought was slow and not that good when I was a kid.

Of all the Muppet movies, I was looking forward to re-watching this one the least. It was always my least favorite of the trilogy, and I’ve seen a lot of negativity around it on the Internet (I know… surprising that you’d find negativity on the Internet). My fears were allayed almost immediately after the film began, though, as I was quickly wrapped up in the storyline and the way it unfolded before me. Because I was just a little indifferent to this one as a kid, I’ve seen it the least (which is still probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 20+ watches), so I also remembered the least about it before it started. As it rolled along, I found that I remembered everything in it, and the greatest thing about that was that as each scene came up, I remembered it fondly.

The film opens with Kermit and company performing their musical, Manhattan Melodies, in their college’s auditorium. They’ve put on the show as their senior project and are now recent graduates looking to put their stamp on that big, wide world around them. With stars in their eyes, and the supportive college audience cheering them on, they set out for Broadway. But when they get there, they discover that they aren’t the hot fire they thought they were, and their efforts are met with frustration, despair and heartache.

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Stephen reviews: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984)

The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? [超時空要塞マクロス 愛・おぼえていますか, Chōjikū Yōsai Makurosu: Ai Oboete Imasu ka] (1984)

AKA Macross: Do You Remember Love?, Super Dimension Fortress Macross the Movie, Macross: Clash of the Bionoids, Super Spacefortress Macross

Starring Mari Iijima, Arihiro Hase, Mika Doi, Akira Kamiya, Osamu Ichikawa, Eiji Kanie, Ryūnosuke Ōbayashi

Directed by Shōji Kawamori & Noboru Ishiguro

Here it is: Macross. The holy grail of sci-fi anime. It may not have as much mainstream recognition as some others, but within the industry, Macross is the preeminent giant robot anime. In America, it was turned into the first part of the Robotech series, one of the more popular cartoon shows of the 80s. It even impacted the Transformers. The character Jetfire was created from a Macross toy, and while Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf have been using the Transformers franchise as their own personal commode lately, that Macross inspired character is still around today.

There is no Robotech version of this film, which is an adaptation of the original Macross TV series, but because of the various copyright conundrums, it never got a proper American release. It did get an English dub under the title Macross: Clash of the Bionoids, but one version going by that title was edited into oblivion. (If someone makes a list of the most confusingly published movies, this one better be on it.) I didn’t have much trouble getting a DVD of the original Do You Remember Love, but it is an all region disc, so I think it’s an international release that somehow sidestepped the copyright problems. Sadly, that “perfect edition” is far from perfect. While it does have some good quality video, the subtitles are abysmally timed. The worst part is the karaoke subtitles, which cannot be turned off under any circumstances. Maybe someday we’ll get a good remastered Blu-ray edition in America, but don’t hold your breath.

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