Beanstalk (1994)

beanstalk_8Starring J.D. Daniels, Amy Stoch, Margot Kidder, Patrick Renna, Richard Moll, Richard Paul, Stuart Pankin, Cathy McAuley, Cindy Sorenson, David Naughton, Dominique Adler

Directed by Michael Davis

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


As you might have figured out by the title, Beanstalk is Moonbeam’s attempt at adapting the classic fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk. The story is one that just about everyone is familiar with, but Beanstalk does a great job of keeping the basics and updating the story in a lot of fun and entertaining ways. Beanstalk does away with the antiquated setup of Jack trading his cow for a handful of magic beans, replacing it with a cross between Back to the Future‘s Doc Brown and the mega-hit from the year before: Jurassic Park. A cryptozoologist (played with reckless glee by Margot Kidder!) runs a dig site somewhere in the desert, and she unearths a bunch of huge beans and a giant skull. This might be the site of Jack’s original beanstalk, but other minor details later in the film suggest that Jack’s tale was merely one of a few beanstalk scalings over the years.

Anyway, Jack (J.D. Daniels) is helping his mother (Missy from Bill & Ted, Amy Stoch!) pay the overdue rent payment by taking a load of antiques to sell. A bully (Patrick Renna) starts screwing with his box of treasures, throwing one into the street. The money these antiques will bring is very important to Jack and his mother, so he runs out into the street to catch the porcelain dog before it smashes on the asphalt. He catches it, but the cryptozoologist happens to be driving by and almost hits him with her motor home. A crate full of the giant beans flies off in the ruckus, and because Jack is a scheming whiz kid always looking for his next big idea, he decides to take the crate home in hopes that it contains something valuable or useful.

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Jingle All the Way (1996)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Robert Conrad, Martin Mull, Jake Lloyd, James Belushi, E.J. De La Pena, Laraine Newman, Justin Chapman, Harvey Korman, Richard Moll, Daniel Riordan

Directed by Brian Levant

Expectations: Low. This can’t be good. I’m just hoping for some good Arnold lines.


Fifteen years. Fifteen years it took to wear me down enough to accept the idea of watching this one. When Jingle All the Way was released in 1996 I was fifteen, and there was no way in hell I was going to watch my most favorite action star sliding around a department store in a battle with Sinbad for a stupid Power Rangers rip-off doll. No way, no how. These days I feel somewhat different about the whole thing. I don’t watch Arnold films hardly at all anymore and he’s been out of the Hollywood scene for several years so there hasn’t been anything new to entice me. Over these years I’ve slowly grown more and more desperate, willing to watch anything he was in, if only to hear him say stupid lines in that wonderful accent I love so well. During one of my more exuberant Arnold moments, I found myself watching as many Arnold quote compilation videos on YouTube as I could get my mouse on. One of these featured Arnold’s famous line from Jingle All the Way, “Put the cookie down! Now!” remixed into a techno song. This, coupled with a newfound enjoyment of Power Rangers, led me to say yes to Turbo Man and give Jingle All the Way a go.

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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.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
threehalfstar


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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Ragewar (1985)

Ragewar (1985)
AKA Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate, The Dungeonmaster

Starring Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll, Leslie Wing, Phil Fondacaro, Anthony T. Genova III, Lonnie Hashimoto, Michael Steve Jones, Peter Kent, Paul Pape, Randy Popplewell, Felix Silla, W.A.S.P.

Directed by Dave Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler, Steven Ford, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolaou, Rosemarie Turko

Expectations: High. With a title like Ragewar, it’s hard not to have high hopes.

On the general scale:
threestar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Did you ever wear an NES Power Glove when you were a kid and pretend you were pushing buttons on it, affecting the real world? Me too, and boy have I got a movie for you!

The film opens with a short dream sequence in which our hero finds himself slowly chasing after a woman in a red dress. He follows her into a room where she has disrobed and lies on a spotlighted bed. He goes in for a kiss, but shortly after, a bunch of Tusken Raider-like mutants bust through the door, punch him out and take the girl! This has no real bearing on the main story but it sets up the film nicely. Upon US release this scene was removed in order to secure a PG-13 rating and the title was changed to The Dungeonmaster to capitalize on the success of Dungeons and Dragons, despite having zero relation to the classic pen-and-paper RPG.

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