Sideshow (2000)

sideshow_8Starring Phil Fondacaro, Jamie Martz, Michael Amos, Scott Clark, Jessica Keenan, Jeana Blackman, Peter Spellos, Luigi Francis Shorty Rossi, Curran Sympson, Fred Pierce, Shyra Deland, Ross Hagen, Brinke Stevens

Directed by Fred Olen Ray

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Let’s just get this out of the way: Sideshow is in many ways Full Moon’s homage to the 1932 classic Freaks, but don’t take that to mean that it’s a rip-off. Sideshow is its own movie completely, but in this rather small sub-genre of carnival horror it’s probably pretty hard to make a movie without at least in some way recalling Freaks. It’s clear, though, that Full Moon and director Fred Olen Ray purposefully inserted a few nods of the cap to the classic film, and instead of inducing groans they actually work well to pay their respects to what came before (and no doubt influenced their respective artistic pursuits).

But we’re not hear to talk about Freaks, we’re here to talk about freaks! Sideshow opens with a man desperately crawling away from a sideshow tent. The employees of the traveling establishment don’t seem to be in a helpful mood either, as they ominously approach him as if he were their prey. The smallest of the group, Dr. Graves (Phil Fondacaro), then makes it clear to the audience that this frightened fan isn’t going anywhere. Are these freaks cannibals? Are they sadists? Are they just looking for a friend to chat with? Sideshow will have you asking the big questions… and more!

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Cyclone (1987)

Starring Heather Thomas, Jeffrey Combs, Ashley Ferrare, Dar Robinson, Martine Beswick, Robert Quarry, Martin Landau, Huntz Hall, Troy Donahue, Michael Reagan, Tim Conway Jr., Dawn Wildsmith, Bruce Fairbairn

Directed by Fred Olen Ray

Expectations: Low. I’m expecting some low-budget action trash.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Prior to seeing Cyclone, I had heard the name Fred Olen Ray, but I had never seen any of his work. From the stories I surmised that Cyclone would be ultra low-budget and ultra stupid, but instead it was fucking awesome! It’s definitely low-budget, and high-brow motherfuckers will turn their noses up at its ridiculous plot, but in terms of entertainment value, this is one of the better films I’ve seen in the past few months. Seriously. Maybe this is just disappointment and indifference talking after seeing The Adventures of Tintin and Melancholia in the theaters, but Cyclone is actually a really well made and produced film, featuring incredible car stunts, explosions and a bevy of quality actors.

Cyclone tells the story of Teri (Heather Thomas) and her inventor boyfriend Rick (Jeffrey Combs). Rick has built an incredible motorcycle fitted with armor plating, laser guns and missiles, and now that it’s complete he starts receiving death threats. The couple goes out to celebrate Rick’s completion of the project, but instead of a champagne toast he receives an ice pick to the brain. Now Teri’s duty is to protect the Cyclone from falling into the wrong hands, but in a world inhabited by greedy people, there’s no telling who she can trust.

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