The Occultist (1989)
AKA Maximum Thrust, Waldo Warren: Private Dick Without a Brain
Starring Rick Gianasi, Joe Derrig, Richard Mooney, Jennifer Kanter, Mizan Kirby, Matt Mitler, Anibal O. Lleras, Betty Vaughn, Kate Goldsborough, Doug Delauder
Directed by Tim Kincaid
Expectations: Moderate, but hopeful.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
The Occultist was Tim Kincaid’s final film for Empire, and to be honest I held back on reviewing it for a while. It was the film Kincaid made after the wonderfully bad Mutant Hunt, so I guess I assumed it would be of a similar quality. The Occultist even features the star of Mutant Hunt, Rick Gianasi, who went on to later star as the title character in Troma’s Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD. What could go wrong? Apparently everything! Or nearly everything… as bad as The Occultist is, it is not without a couple of truly memorable charms.
The plot didn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps I missed some key dialogue or something else along the way, but honestly I was confused from the first moments. The film opens with a group of men on a pier overlooking the ocean. This scene cross-cuts with a scene inside an industrial warehouse of a “voodoo dance/skinning an innocent man alive” party. Here’s where I got confused: the guys on the pier are apparently watching the voodoo get-together from where they are… and they don’t like what they see! What? How are they looking inside? Are we to believe that this dark, dingy locale is actually an open-faced building on some island? I just — I don’t even know what to think. But whatever, it’s a B-Movie so I gave them the benefit of the doubt that maybe these guys could see these voodoo shenanigans from their vantage point.
About this time, Rick Gianasi shows up and we are treated to a Mutant Hunt-style shitty karate battle. Things were looking up! This is exactly what I wanted from this movie. Maybe it will redeem itself, I thought. But this scene also introduces the political intrigue plot line… yes, political intrigue! And damn if that intrigue doesn’t take up nearly the entire rest of the movie! So if you like your B-Movies to tone down everything they are known for and fill it all in with loads of dialogue about presidents and rebels and security companies, then The Occultist is your movie! A dialogue-based drama doesn’t really work with horrid writing and equally bad acting, but to each his own. As to the writing, I do have to give them credit for this wonderful line: “Who works here, ninja butlers?” And no, there are no ninjas in the movie, butlers or otherwise.
The one and only saving grace is the character Rick Gianasi plays: Waldo Warren. He honestly isn’t given a lot to do, but he makes an impression whenever he does. When the guys on the pier from the intro show up at the voodoo warehouse and start blowing away people, what does he do? He makes a gun with his fingers and shoots them! When confronted by bad dudes while his foot is on a chair, what does he do? Shoot them with his boot! When taking a leak and he realizes that the stalls behind him are filled with henchmen waiting to kill him, what does he do? He machine guns them down with his dick. I’m going to forget just about everything from this movie, but you can guarantee I’ll never forget that little tidbit. If only it was in a better movie! Thankfully someone put it on YouTube, so you don’t have to sit through the movie to see it.
Also of note is the giant spiked flail that appears on the poster. Surprisingly, it is the only thing on that poster that’s in the movie. You might expect it to have some significance, but it just shows up randomly when a crazed villain picks it up in the warehouse and starts swinging it around. It’s a fantastic B-Movie moment, but it’s literally unconnected to everything else in the film. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me too much, as a lot of the components of this movie feel unrelated to each other, but this one really took me by surprise. By that point in the movie I had completely forgot about its place on the poster, so when it appeared it jarred me.
I was really hoping Kincaid would follow Mutant Hunt with a similarly entertaining B-Movie, but The Occultist just doesn’t deliver. I don’t even like good political intrigue movies, so a bad one was a real chore to sit through. At least there were a few bits of martial arts and random appendages shooting bullets to heighten the experience just enough to keep me awake.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be rolling the dice on the 1999 film Ragdoll! Ted Nicolaou directed it, so maybe it’ll deliver. See ya then!