The Deadly Trackers (1973)

deadlytrackers_2Starring Richard Harris, Rod Taylor, Al Lettieri, Neville Brand, William Smith, Paul Benjamin, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Isela Vega

Directed by Barry Shear

Expectations: None.

onehalfstar


The Deadly Trackers opens with a few minutes of still images introducing us to the town of Santa Rosa. Sometimes dialogue plays over these images, creating the feeling of recalling a memory through a series of photographs. The images also carry the texture of a painting or an old photograph. This intro drags on for quite a while, eventually introducing a group of bandits robbing the bank. If there was ever an opposite to the slam-bang, ball-grabbin’ Sam Fuller-style intro, this would be it.

Where the motion begins, though, becomes all the more jarring because of this slow run-up of still images. The leader of the bandits, Brand (Rod Taylor), shoots a bank clerk in the forehead and the film almost literally explodes into action. Is it possible to assume that if Sam Fuller had been allowed to make the film he would’ve just opened here? Probably not, but it would definitely be closer to his style than anything Barry Shear decided to do in The Deadly Trackers.

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The Cape Town Affair (1967)

The_Cape_Town_Affair-256914667-largeStarring James Brolin, Jacqueline Bisset, Claire Trevor, Bob Courtney, John Whiteley, Gordon Mulholland

Directed by Robert D. Webb

Expectations: None.

halfstar


The Cape Town Affair is a beat-by-beat remake of Sam Fuller’s wonderful noir thriller Pickup on South Street, and it’s just painful as all hell to get through. But this is a bad movie unlike any bad movie I’ve ever seen. Remakes are always tricky business when the original is a well-loved film, but the choices here are truly strange. Based on the film’s opening credits, you might be persuaded into thinking that Sam Fuller had actually been involved with this remake, but that was not the case. No, Fuller’s screenwriting credit comes by way of his original script, which was used here almost word for word.

Pickup on South Street is a late-period noir film, and it carries with it a style of hard-edged dialogue that usually typifies the genre. Within the confines of the original film it works; the actors inhabit their characters fully and deliver the lines with conviction and passion. Not so much with The Cape Town Affair. The actors in the remake feel like they’re just passing the time until the catering truck arrives with only mildly interesting food. The once-edgy dialogue now seems out of place in 1960s Cape Town; it’s as if all the film’s characters were scooped up from 1950s New York and dropped into 1960s Cape Town without any knowledge or self-awareness. It’s such a strange thing to watch and try to make sense of. I can understand why you’d want to use Fuller’s original dialogue because it’s often bristlin’ with great wit, but to ignore the passage of time and place is a glaring oversight.

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Decadent Evil II (2007)

decadentevil2_2Decadent Evil II (2007)
AKA Decadent Evil Dead II

Starring Jill Michelle, Daniel Lennox, Jessica Morris, Ricardo Gil, Jon-Paul Gates, James C. Burns, Mike Muscat, Rory Williamson

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


Decadent Evil II has a bigger budget, more FX, and more decadence than the original film. I guess in that way it’s everything you could want a sequel to be. Somewhere in the writing process, though, they forgot to add in enough of the comedic elements that helped the original film be the dumb fun it was. Decadent Evil II isn’t anywhere close to straight horror, but it’s much too straight for a story as inherently dumb and recycled as this one is.

Our story picks up shortly after the events of Decadent Evil, with the vampire Sugar (Jill Michelle) and her human boyfriend Dex (Daniel Lennox) on the run with the caged homunculus Marvin in tow. Also along for the ride is the corpse of Phil Fondacaro’s character Ivan (played here by Ricardo Gil), stuffed into a suitcase. I guess being the corpse of a three-foot-tall vampire hunter has its benefits. Sugar and Dex are tracking down the elder vampire that will take the place of Morella (see DE1) as leader of the vampire bloodline, and their search has brought them to good ol’ Littlerock, AR. And where might this bloodthirsty fiend of the night be hiding his dusty bones? In a strip club, naturally.

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Fantasy Mission Force (1982)

FantasyMissionForce+1983-187-bFantasy Mission Force [迷你特攻隊] (1982)
AKA The Dragon Attack!!, Dragon Attack, Mini Special Force, Mission Force, Shadowman 2

Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Jackie Chan, Brigitte Lin, Suen Yuet, Ko Ling-Fung, Pearl Cheung Ling, David Tao Da-Wei, Mary Wong Ma-Lee, Adam Cheng Siu-Chow, Hui Bat-Liu, Fong Ching

Directed by Chu Yen-Ping

Expectations: Not much, I remember this one being really weird, though.

onestar


I think Fantasy Mission Force shorted out my brain. I’m sitting here, wondering what to type, but instead of ideas forming and flowing, it’s more of a blank stare into the abyss. If my brain on Fantasy Mission Force were a sound, it’d be the sound of a robot who just had a big fistful of wires pulled out of his thingamajig and he’s about 0.3 seconds away from exploding in a shower of sparks and shrapnel. I just — What the fuck? Fantasy Mission Force isn’t even that weird of a movie, it just defies all logic, and any attempts to watch it as a “real” movie will be met with a similar response to my own.

Don’t believe me? Consider the scene when fiery bluegrass banjo plays while Chinese soldiers wearing kilts parade in formation in fast motion. Or when our band of misfit mercenaries encounter a jungle tribe of wuxia-inspired flying female fighters flinging fabric to and fro. Or the Japanese villains waving road flares while riding in ’70s muscle cars with spray-painted swastikas on the doors. And don’t forget the night they spend in the haunted house inhabited by hopping vampires. Fantasy Mission Force is just one big collective WTF for 90 minutes; it’s closer to a fever dream than anything that could be called a film.

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Planet Patrol (1999)

planetpatrol_1Starring R.L. McMurry, Teal Marchande, Robert Garcia, Robert J. Ferrelli, Jeff Rector, Anthony Furlong, Alison Lohman, Candida Tolentino, J.W. Perra, Jon Simanton, Michael David, John Paul Fedele, Colin Campbell, Matt Corboy, John Williams

Directed by Russ Mazzolla

Expectations: I’m just hoping it’s at least better than Kraa! was.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-movie scale:
onestar


Are you the kind of person whose attention span just can’t hang onto plot points for more than 20 minutes? Then Planet Patrol is the Full Moon movie for you! Edited from a few previous Full Moon films (Kraa! the Sea Monster, Doctor Mordrid, Subspecies & Robot Wars if you’re interested), Planet Patrol plays out like a weird pseudo-anthology film that attempts to tell one overarching story, but instead just feels like they spliced a bunch of shit from other movies together with a few mildly effective connecting scenes interspersed. Wonder why?

Planet Patrol begins in the same way that Kraa! the Sea Monster does — like exactly the same way — but the scene has been edited so that the evil plot hatched by the villains could literally be anything! So instead of leading into the events of Kraa!, we’re introduced to the Museum Planet AKA the museum from Doctor Mordrid. There the Planet Patrol get mixed up in a murder investigation involving a canister of dark goo, the Subspecies stealing the Bloodstone Pickory Stone, and the villain using said stone to conjure footage from Doctor Mordrid of the stop-motion dinosaur eating the guards. What’s a psychic Planet Patrol member to do in the face of such egregious crimes? Use her mind to bring the rest of the Doctor Mordrid footage to the screen, allowing the other dinosaur skeleton to come to life and battle the first, of course!

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Kraa! the Sea Monster (1998)

kraa_2Starring R.L. McMurry, Teal Marchande, Robert Garcia, Robert J. Ferrelli, Jeff Rector, Stephen Martines, Anthony Furlong, Alison Lohman, Candida Tolentino, J.W. Perra, Jon Simanton, Jerry Lentz, Michael Guerin, John Paul Fedele

Directed by Aaron Osborne (with kaiju SFX scenes directed by Dave Parker)

Expectations: I hope it’s as fun as Zarkorr! the Invader was.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
onehalfstar


Kraa! the Sea Monster begins with promise. Lord Doom, a red-caped villain with a skull face (who looks like he could be a cousin of the metal-faced, green-caped Doctor Doom!), converses with his minion Chamberlain, a midget with white face paint and space goggles. They hatch a plan to steal the Earth out from under us humans by sending down the alien behemoth Kraa to pave the way for the Doom clan. Lord Doom’s planet is becoming too cold to support life, and he craves the warmth of the Earth. Someone just send this guy a space heater and call it a day!

Unlike Full Moon’s previous kaiju film, Zarkorr! the Invader, in Kraa! the survival of the Earth does not hinge on the actions of one man. That task mainly falls onto the backs of the Planet Patrol, a group of teens flying around the galaxy in a Death Star-like sphere ship. Lord Doom disables their ship so they are unable to respond, but somehow (I honestly forget how) the Planet Patrol is able to send an agent to Earth that should be able to handle the job.

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Auditions (1978)

auditions_5Starring Bonnie Werchan, Rick Cassidy, Linnea Quigley, Carolyn Burch, Robert Staats, Linda York, Alan Simons, Molly Manning, Jennifer West, William Margold, Peter Risch, Greg Travis, Adore O’Hara, Michael Hardin, Freddie Dawson, Jeffrey Lampert, Joey Camen, Tony Popson

Directed by Harry Hurwitz

Expectations: Very interested, but I don’t expect much.


Auditions isn’t much of a good film (or a film at all for that matter), but it is an interesting document of a time. Whether it is truly a documentary — as the opening of the film and its DVD intro by producer Charles Band suggests — or more of a pieced-together recreation of reality is a question ever-present while watching the players disrobe and reveal their various sexual fantasies. Regardless of the reality it may or may not contain, Auditions was made during the late ’70s, and as a low-budget film shot on 16mm in a Santa Monica office building, it captures the vibe of the late ’70s exactly how a big-budget film never could.

The premise is really where the film gets its basic attraction. Sometime in 1978, Charles Band placed full-page ads in all the Hollywood trade papers, announcing an open audition for his next film, Fairy Tales 2. They were looking for the world’s sexiest woman and man, as well as the world’s most unusual act or personality. That’ll sure get ’em to come out of the woodwork! The thing is, there never was a Fairy Tales 2, and as far as I can tell, there never was any intention of making one. That’s one way to make a low-budget movie!

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