Trancers: City of Lost Angels (1988)

trancers_2Trancers: City of Lost Angels (1988)
AKA Trancers 1.5, Pulsepounders

Starring Tim Thomerson, Art LaFleur, Velvet Rhodes, Alyson Croft, Telma Hopkins, Grace Zabriskie, Helen Hunt

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Very high.

threestar


Like last year’s release of The Evil Clergyman, Trancers: City of Lost Angels (previously known as Trancers 1.5) was originally planned to be one piece of the anthology film Pulsepounders. Its three segments were to provide sequels to Empire International’s biggest films, theoretically also making Pulsepounders a hit. But the film was never finished and was left to waste away in the back of a warehouse… until now! Or until last year, anyway.

In this mini-Trancers film, Jack Deth must face yet another future villain out to get revenge on him. Edlin Shock was put behind bars by Jack eight years ago, but in order to get the plot moving, Jack’s boss McNulty is transferring this dangerous assassin to a new facility. She escapes by somehow blasting a hole in the ceiling and then forces the police scientists to send her down the line to where Jack Deth is in 1980s Los Angeles. Oh no!

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Near Dark (1987)

Starring Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Tim Thomerson, Joshua John Miller, Marcie Leeds, Kenny Call, Troy Evans

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Expectations: High, been looking forward to this for a while.


Well, this is apparently the week of movies that don’t fit into the standard mold of what you’d generally expect from a horror movie. With the exception of Tales from the Hood, everything I’ve done this week has had some strange twist on the genre, or tried to subvert it to fit whatever artistic goals the director had in mind. Near Dark does both, and as the hype would have me believe, it does both incredibly well. Near Dark might not be a traditional horror movie, but it is unique, interesting and absolutely gorgeous to look at.

The story isn’t anything especially new to the genre: a young vampire rashly turns a mortal into a bloodsucker, and now said mortal must learn to cope with his new skills. But while the story itself is average and kind of done to death, the execution here is anything but. Director Kathryn Bigelow specifically set out to make a western film, but when she was unable to secure funding, she decided to jump onto the vampire hype wagon and make a revisionist vampire western. Sounds like a tall order for sure, but she pulls it off with the utmost style.

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Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

Starring Jeffrey Byron, Michael Preston, Tim Thomerson, Kelly Preston, Richard Moll, R. David Smith, Larry Pennell, Marty Zagon, Mickey Fox, William Jones, Winston Jones

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: High. With a name like “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn”, it has to be good.


Pitch your tent and start your fires, it’s about to get campy! Coming off the high-brow 3D horror flick Parasite, Charles Band, never one to rest on his laurels, set out to create another 3D epic for the ages. This time he set his sights on the science fiction genre, specifically Mad Max and Star Wars (Technically, I don’t classify Star Wars as science fiction, but that doesn’t matter for this review). The result is the ultra-camp, ultra-fun Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, and it’s one hell of a film.

Summarizing the plot in any depth would require a re-watch as its intricacies aren’t something I was able to keep up with on the first go-round, but the gist is this: Dogen (Jeffrey Byron) is a space ranger hunting the evil Jared-Syn. Along the way he runs into a girl whose father was just murdered by Jared-Syn. They team up and set out on the adventure of a lifetime amid the arid wastes of some post-apocalyptic planet. That’s the overall, but to look at it in such a way belittles the power of the movie. Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn isn’t about “Plot Point A” leading into “Plot Point B.” It’s about an alien with a retractable claw-hand that shoots out green hallucinogenic acid. It’s about Dogen hooking up with the Han Solo-esque Rhodes (Tim Thomerson) in a seedy alien bar in the desert (nothing familiar about that one). It’s about fucking awesome car chases with vehicles crudely fashioned from scrap metal and old VW parts. The awesome literally never stops in this film, so I frankly could not care less if it all makes sense. It’s a popcorn movie that succeeds handily, and if that’s what Band set out to make, then it should be applauded. Do purely fun goals make a film any less worthy of praise than one with more artistic goals? Not on your sai-wielding cyclops’s life. (Yes, there are a bunch of cyclopes in this too, see what I mean? Nothing but awesome.)

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Dollman vs. Demonic Toys (1993)

Dollman vs. Demonic Toys (1993)

Starring Tim Thomerson, Tracy Scoggins, Melissa Behr, Phillip Brock, Phil Fondacaro, R.C. Bates, Willie C. Carpenter, Peter Chen

Directed by Charles Band

Featured Toys: Baby Oopsy Daisy, Jack Attack, Mr. Static, Zombietoid, Grizzly Teddy (flashback)

Expectations: Moderate. I liked Dollman. I liked Demonic Toys.


Dollman vs. Demonic Toys serves as a sequel to three Full Moon films, the two in the title and Bad Channels. Following the events of Bad Channels, where an alien took over a radio station and shrunk beautiful women down to Dollman size, Dollman finds himself heading down the road to see if he can meet up with the girl who didn’t get restored to full-size. The scene that opens the film is the same as the one that follows the credits of Bad Channels. Meanwhile, Tracy Scoggins from Demonic Toys is staking out the toy warehouse where all the demonic shit went down. A bum dies and his blood gives life anew to the toys, who flee into an air duct before Scoggins can blast them like she did towards the end of Demonic Toys. Got all that?

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Bad Channels (1992)

Bad Channels (1992)

Starring Paul Hipp, Martha Quinn, Aaron Lustig, Michael Huddleston, Sonny Carl Davis, Rodney Ueno, Roumel Reaux, Robert Factor, Charlie Spradling, Daryl Strauss, Victor Rogers, Melissa Behr, Tim Thomerson

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate, it sounds like a cool idea.


Bad Channels tells the story of the radio station, KDUL, an “All Polka, All-the-time” station that has recently discovered it is eligible to broadcast nationwide because it uses a frequency used by no other radio station in the country, 666 AM. They hire a star DJ, who chains himself into the chair and plays one polka album-side on repeat until someone guesses the combo to the Master lock around his neck. Some aliens show up and have other plans for the broadcast though!

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Dollman (1991)

Dollman (1991)

Starring Tim Thomerson, Jackie Earle Haley, Kamala Lopez, Humberto Ortiz, Nicholas Guest, Judd Omen, Michael Halsey, Frank Doubleday, Frank Collison, Vincent Klyn, John Durbin, Merle Kennedy, Luis Contreras, Eugene Robert Glazer, Richard D’Sisto, John Eastman, Christian Guzek

Directed by Albert Pyun

Expectations: Moderate, I remember liking this when I saw it as a kid.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Dollman in some ways is the ultimate Full Moon film. It features a high-concept plot, lots of special FX (of varying quality) and that unmistakable brand of cheap humor laced into most of their titles. For instance, the whole opening sequence is a cavalcade of bad-quality fat jokes, which I suppose sets the tone accordingly, but it does so in such a ham-fisted way that many probably never made it past the scene. It’s unfortunate because once it gets going,  Dollman is a rip-roaring good time.

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Evil Bong (2006)

Evil Bong (2006)

Starring David Weidoff, John Patrick Jordan, Mitch Eakins, Brian Lloyd, Robin Sydney, Kristyn Green, Tommy Chong, Michelle Mais, Jacob Witkin, Kristen Caldwell, Phil Fondacaro, Tim Thomerson, Bill Moseley, Brandi Cunningham, Dana Danes, Gina-Raye Carter, Sonny Carl Davis

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low, subterranean even. I expect nothing.


Bro, just the fact that I can write anything positive about a movie called Evil Bong is something of a miracle. As much as I love Full Moon movies, what I’ve seen of their recent output hasn’t been their best by any means, so I went into Evil Bong with a distinct trepidation. I’m sure the lowered expectations helped me in the long run, but after watching Evil Bong, it seems like all the pile-of-shit movie dread wasn’t warranted. Against the odds, Evil Bong is actually pretty enjoyable.

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